The protective effect of coresidence for adolescent mothers in Latin America

Jordana Jesus, Cedeplar, UFMG
Simone Wajnman, Cedeplar, UFMG
Cassio M. Turra, Cedeplar, UFMG

In Latin America, there is increasing number of multigenerational families, including families composed of single mothers living with their parents. The main force behind this trend is the persistently high adolescent fertility levels in the region, despite the rapid decline in total fertility rates since the 1960s. The negative consequences of teen pregnancy and childbearing to the lives of young mothers and their children have been discussed extensively and include a myriad of effects on educational attainment, job enrollment, the probability of marrying and having traditional family arrangements, as well as health-related risks. In this article, we examine one important dimension of the association between these two main trends in Latin America, namely, how multigenerational families are related to better education/employment outcomes among adolescent mothers. We draw census data for a set of Latin American countries that have been characterized by persistently high adolescent fertility levels since the early 1990s, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. About 10% of adolescents are mothers living with at least one child in those countries. Among those, about a third coreside with their mothers in multigenerational households. The majority of adolescent mothers are out of school, despite the current high school attendance rates in Latin America. Nevertheless, we also find a clear positive association between the presence of mothers in the household and better outcomes for the adolescent mothers, including higher rates of school attendance and lower rates of adolescents neither studying nor working. We plan to examine more in-depth this apparent protective effect of mothers’ coresidence by measuring the combined effects of the presence of adolescent mothers’ spouses and mothers on education outcomes, and by addressing whether the results hold for all socioeconomic groups in Latin America or are typical of the lower SES households.

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 Presented in Session P2. Poster Session 2