Child & Youth Well-being Working Paper

Individual, Family and Neighborhood Influences on Teen Childbearing: A Life Options Approach

This paper presents results from an examination of the effects of neighborhood and family characteristics—as they are related to an individual’s life options—on the teenage fertility of urban respondents. The study drew upon the life options perspective, a loosely defined theoretical framework which posits that opportunities for social and economic mobility impact an adolescent’s expectations for the future and behavior. The data come from the University of Chicago’s Urban Poverty and Family Life Survey of Chicago. Collected in 1987 under the supervision of William Julius Wilson, the data are derived from 2,490 personal and telephone interviews conducted with a multistage, stratified probability sample of Chicago residents aged 18 to 44 years. Respondents resided in census tracts with 1980 poverty rates of at least 20 percent. These results provide some support for the use of a life options approach to understand teenage childbearing.


Scheuler-Whitaker, L., & Pandey, S. (1998). Individual, family and neighborhood influences on teen childbearing: A life options approach (CSD Working Paper No. 98-5). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.