The growth of nonmarital childbearing among women who are beyond their teenage years is well documented. Very little is known, however, about the economic status of these women. Data for 1991 from the nationally representative Panel Study of Income Dynamics indicate that the socioeconomic status of women who have had a nonmarital birth as an adult is similar to that of women who had a birth as an adolescent: They have similar median income-to-needs ratios (2.29 vs. 2.17), and similar rates of poverty (20% vs. 23%) and welfare receipt (22% vs. 19%). Women who have had both teenage and postteenage nonmarital births fare particularly poorly: Their median family income is $11,280; nearly half receive welfare; and 55% are officially poor. However, women who first gave birth as adolescents but have not had subsequent nonmarital births do reasonably well: Fewer than 10% receive welfare, and their median income-to-needs ratio is 2.6.
(Family Planning Perspectives, 29:137-140, 1997)