Who Are Young Mothers Today? Examining Economic and Demographic Trends in the Current Population Survey

Naomi Zewde
Sophie Collyer, Columbia University
Christopher T. Wimer, Columbia University

As the average age at first birth increases, this paper asks: Who are the young mothers today, and how do their circumstances differ from those faced by young mothers of previous decades? Using data from the Current Population Survey, pooled across five-year-intervals between 1973 and 2015, this study examines socio-economic conditions of women who had their first resident child before age 25. Specifically, we will evaluate the group’s size and composition, including trends in race, ethnicity and immigration-status. Second, we will examine trends in work and incomes. We will evaluate household budgets by source of income to assess trends in women’s work hours and real wages over time separately from changes to public support accessed. Finally, we will combine our analyses to investigate the role of safety net programs in the lives of young mothers over the past half century to assess its ongoing effectiveness in reducing or alleviating poverty.

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 Presented in Session 62. Fertility Timing: Causes and Consequences