• Article

Cognitive Attainment Among Firstborn Children of Adolescent Mothers

Earlier studies have suggested that the children of teenage mothers and of mothers who are high school dropouts do worse on tests of cognitive attainment than do children of mothers who are older and/or are progressing normally in school. Using data on the children born to young women in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and data on week-by-week school enrollment for each mother, we examine the effects of early childbearing and the mother's school progress on the cognitive test scores of their three- to seven-year-old firstborn children. In separate multivariate analyses of African-American, Hispanic, and white children, mother's age at first birth and school enrollment status at conception were less important predictors of the child's cognitive score than was the mother's score on a test of cognitive achievement. Environmental factors, such as the degree of intellectual stimulation in the child's home, also predicted the child's test score and reduced the effect of the mother's cognitive score to nonsignificance among Hispanics. However, among African-Americans and whites control variables did not dislodge the strong and significant association between the mother's and child's cognitive scores


Moore, K. A., & Snyder, N. O. (1991). Cognitive Attainment Among Firstborn Children of Adolescent Mothers. American Sociological Review, 56(5), 612-624.