Culture and class as determinants of out-of-wedlock childbearing and poverty during late adolescence.

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18 Scopus citations


Out-of-wedlock childbearing during late adolescence is associated with poverty, both before and after the transition to parenthood. This article compares 2 linked data sets to examine the effects of income level and membership in race/ethnic categories on whether teen pregnancies terminate in abortion and whether those carried to term are legitimated by marriage. One data set consists of ethnographic data from 3 neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York, that are predominantly African-American, Hispanic (mostly Puerto Rican), and non-Latino White, respectively. The other consists of all birth and abortion records from the health areas of those neighborhoods. Both data sets show higher rates of abortion and lower rates of marriage for poorer people, along with distinctive race/ethnic patterns that cannot be reduced to income differences. The results support the predictions of expectancy theory and show the strong independent role of culture in processes of family and household formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-316
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Research on Adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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