Early adult psychological consequences for males of adolescent pregnancy and its resolution

Abstract

Using data front 2522 young men who were first surveyed as 7th-grade students in Houston, Texas in 1971, we examined the psychological consequences in early adulthood of having a girlfriend become pregnant in adolescence. By age 21, 15% of the young men were involved in a nonmarital pregnancy. Rates were higher for blacks (24%) than for whites (12%) or Hispanics (16%). Among whites, most adolescent pregnancies were ended by abortion (58%). Adolescent pregnancies to blacks most often resulted in single parenthood (56%). Hispanics tended to have the child, and marry or live together (55%). Consistent with the life course perspective, young men involved in adolescent pregnancies were more psychologically distressed as young adults than those who did not have a girlfriend become pregnant in adolescence. The greater distress in adulthood is not simply a function of accelerated role transitions, because men whose girlfriends had abortions are also distressed, and those who let their girlfriends assume major parenting responsibility are no less distressed than those who became fathers and married or lived with their girlfriends. Subgroup comparisons revealed that psychological distress levels of young black men were not influenced by adolescent pregnancy.

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Correspondence to Cynthia Robbins.

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Graduate student in sociology at The University of Kentucky where she recently completed a master's thesis on adolescent fatherhood.

Completed doctorate in sociology at the University of Michigan in 1984. This research is part of a larger study of the psychosocial causes, resolution, and consequences of adolescent pregnancy.

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Buchanan, M., Robbins, C. Early adult psychological consequences for males of adolescent pregnancy and its resolution. J Youth Adolescence 19, 413–424 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01537080

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Keywords

  • Young Adult
  • Psychological Distress
  • Health Psychology
  • Single Parenthood
  • Early Adulthood