The Association Between Grandparental Co-Residence and Adolescent Childbearing
There is some evidence to suggest that, in the US, young women are predisposed to have children early and outside of marriage and to marry early when growing up in a non-intact family, plagued by poverty and economic dependence. The number of children growing up in non-intact families has increased, and many grow up in families with multiple characteristics, which place them in a high risk context. In this examination of the influence of family structure on children's outcome, residence with extended kin, specifically grandparents, is examined for its impact on early childbearing. Data were obtained on a nationally representative sample of 4786 females who were sophomores in 1980 from the HIgh School and Beyond study. Dependent variables were evidence of childbearing before the age of 20 and childbearing out of wedlock before the age of 20. Independent variables were race and living arrangements that included both natural parents, one natural parent and one stepparent, one natural parent and no stepparent, and neither parent. In each of these situations, a dummy variable was coded for the presence of a grandparent in the household in both 1980 and 1982. Control variables were region, size of place of residence, number of siblings, and socioeconomic status score. Interaction effects between control and independent variables was found for growing up in a single parent family and being African-American. The results of logistic regression techniques showed that grandparent co-residence effects did not vary by race or family type. African-American teenagers were found to be more likely to have a teenage birth and more likely to have the birth outside of marriage. African-American teenagers from a single parent family were also more likely to have a teenage birth and to have the birth outside of marriage; this effect was not seen in Whites. The results are considered quite preliminary due to the marginal significance levels of coefficients and the lack of attention to selectivity bias. Grandparents co-residence was significantly negatively associated with a birth before the age of 20 at the .10 level of significance. The pattern was similar for outside marriage births but was not significant. There is a need for better specification of measures; for instance, there may be important differences between growing up with a divorced versus a never married mother.