Kids With Young Moms Do Worse in School

18 May 1927 --- Mother & daughter smiling sitting in chair reading book.
Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/Corbis

No one said it was easy to be a teenage mom. Between the fact that they tend to lack the resources older moms have and the stigmas they have to put up with on a daily basis, it’s simply not an easy job. And new research from University of Michigan brings more bad news: The children of young moms tend not to perform as well academically as kids born to older parents — even when a variety of other possible explanatory factors are controlled for.

The researchers examined data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort, a large cohort of kids who were regularly checked in with from the time they entered kindergarten in 1998 until 2007. They found a significant achievement gap between kids born to mothers 18 or younger and those born to mothers 19 or older when it came to math and reading.

These results provide compelling evidence that having a child during adolescence has enduring negative consequences for the achievement of the next generation,” said Sandra Tang, a psychology researcher at the University of Michigan and the study’s lead author, in the press release. The one silver lining in all this is that among children of young moms, those whose moms continued their education did fare better than those who dropped out.

None of this stuff is set in stone, of course — we’re dealing with averages rather than individual stories — but it does suggest that it pays to wait to have kids, even if it’s just waiting until you’re 19 or 20.