The Review of Black Political Economy

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 37–53 | Cite as

Labor market segmentation and relative black/white teenage birth rates

  • Elaine McCrate


Teenage mothers typically have lower educational attainment than other women. Most observers have argued that this is a major reason for their greater risk of poverty. This article takes the opposite view: that circumstances associated with poverty contribute to a greater likelihood of teenage childbearing. In particular, poor educational quality and the chances of secondary sector employment are more common for black women, regardless of their age at first birth. Hence the payoffs to education may be quite low for these women, which may be the reason for early motherhood. This argument is presented in terms of segmented labor market theory. Data to support it is presented from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Other common explanations of teenage motherhood are critiqued.


Labor Market Black Woman Teenage Mother National Longitudinal Survey Woman Worker 
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    All results are derived using the sample weights supplied by the Center for Human Resource Research, the home of the NLSY. (These weights adjust mostly for the oversampling of black and economically disadvantaged white youths, and for sample attrition.) The results reported here are for non-Hispanic blacks and non-Hispanic/nonblacks (predominantly white, although other ethnic groups were difficult to identify).Google Scholar
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© Springer 1990

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  • Elaine McCrate

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