Adolescent Fertility Attitudes and Childbearing in Early Adulthood

  • Karen Benjamin Guzzo
  • Sarah R. Hayford
  • Vanessa Wanner Lang
Original Research


Teens’ attitudes about adolescent childbearing predict childbearing in the short term. If these attitudes reflect persistent goals and values, they may also be linked to later outcomes. To test long-term linkages, we analyze the association of adolescent fertility attitudes with actual and prospective fertility in adulthood using Waves I (1994–1995) and IV (2007–2008) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and focusing on men (N = 4275) and women (N = 4418) without a teen birth. For women, we find that more negative teen attitudes predict lower hazards of a first birth up to around age 30 but that teens’ attitudes are unrelated to planned childlessness among those who have not yet had children. Men’s adolescent attitudes are unrelated to actual fertility or prospective intentions. For both men and women, more advantaged individuals are less likely to have had a child by around age 30; socioeconomic advantage is also related to postponement of childbearing rather than planned childlessness, though more so for women than men. We interpret the findings as evidence that, for girls, teens’ attitudes toward adolescent childbearing capture an internalization of social schema about childbearing, childrearing, and sequencing with other life outcomes but do not reflect overall preferences about having children. More work is needed to understand the psychosocial factors that influence men’s fertility.


Attitudes Birth timing Life course Add Health 



This research was supported from a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development (R01 HD078412; Guzzo and Hayford, PIs) as well as center grants to Bowling Green State University’s Center for Family and Demographic Research (P2C-HD050959) and Ohio State University’s Institute for Population Research (P2C-HD058484). This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Information on how to obtain the Add Health data files is available on the Add Health website ( No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis. A version of this paper was presented as a poster at the 2017 annual meeting of the Population Association of America meeting in Chicago, IL, April 27th–29th.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Benjamin Guzzo
    • 1
  • Sarah R. Hayford
    • 2
  • Vanessa Wanner Lang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyBowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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