Teen Pregnancy and Poverty

Pregnant teens are more likely to drop out of high school, and often must do so to find employment to support themselves and their babies. Because they haven’t finished their education, teen moms are forced to take low paying jobs, and many live in poverty and rely on public assistance programs. An investment in teen pregnancy prevention will ultimately have a ripple effect on multiple social issues in addition to saving taxpayers millions.

  • Two-thirds of families living in poverty were begun by a young unmarried mother.
  • Almost half of all teen mothers began receiving welfare within five years of the birth of their first child.
  • 52% of all mothers on welfare had their first child as a teenager.
  • Nearly 80% of fathers do not marry the teen mother of their child and pay less than $800 annually in child support.
  • In SC, 22% of children live in poverty - that is less than $17,000 for a family of three.

Preventing teen pregnancy is an effective and efficient way to reduce poverty and improve overall child and family well-being in South Carolina.

Linking Poverty to Maternal Risk Factors
What are the chances of a child growing up in poverty if:

(1) the mother gave birth as a teen,
(2) the parents were unmarried when the child was born, or
(3) the mother did not receive a high school diploma or GED?

  • 27% if one of these things happen.
  • 42% if two of these things happen.
  • 64% if three of these things happen.
  • Only 7% if none of these things happen.

To put it another way, if all three of these factors are present, a child’s chance of growing up in poverty is 9 times greater than if none of these things happen.