Teenage Mothers in Later Life: Time for a Second Look

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Teenage motherhood is understood as a social problem by governments and in the public imagination. This is underpinned by studies linking teenage motherhood to a range of poor outcomes. This paper brings together key issues with measuring outcomes of teenage motherhood. It argues that to account for long-term change as well as an understanding of what drives, facilitates and impedes development, longitudinal qualitative methodology is needed.

Methods: A narrative review of qualitative longitudinal studies of teenage motherhood was conducted with six studies meeting the inclusion criteria; (a) data collection at more than one point; (b) at least two points occurring after childbirth

Results: The search demonstrated the insights that these methods can bring to the field. Such studies demonstrate the ways in which pre and post pregnancy contexts impact on attainment and experiences. They are able to present a complex and nuanced picture to contextualise the claims made in the quantitative literature. Furthermore, they provide voice to young mothers so they can narrate their own lives and make clear what is important to them.

Conclusion: The paper argues that we need to work towards telling a more nuanced story of teenage motherhood by sensitising statistical work with qualitative studies. Moreover, research with teenage parents needs to take a longitudinal approach which accounts for change across the lifespan. Combining these approaches would enhance our understanding of outcomes as well as provide us with the means by which to better support young parents in the long-term.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-107
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2019


  • Teenage motherhood
  • Longitudinal research
  • Teenage pregnancy
  • Life course


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