The upshot is that teen motherhood is much more a consequence of intense poverty than its cause. Preaching good behavior won’t do anything to reduce its incidence, and even handing out free birth control won’t contribute meaningfully to solving economic problems. Instead, family life seems to follow real economic opportunities. Where poor people can see that hard work and “playing by the rules” will reward them, they’re pretty likely to do just that. Where the system looks stacked against them, they’re more likely to abandon mainstream norms. Those who do so by becoming single teen moms end up fairing poorly in life, but those bad outcomes seem to be a result of bleak underlying circumstances rather than poor choices.
Matt Yglesias at Slate, explaining that getting pregnant doesn’t make teen girls more likely to be poor throughout life. Being poor makes teen girls more likely to get pregnant. Poverty isn’t something inflicted on teen mothers by some vindictive paternalistic cosmos, y’all…

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