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When children become parents

When children become parents: Welfare state responses to teenage pregnancy

Anne Daguerre
Corinne Nativel
Copyright Date: 2006
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  • Book Info
    When children become parents
    Book Description:

    Teenage parenthood is recognised as a significant disadvantage in western industrialised nations. It has been found to increase the likelihood of poverty and to reinforce inequalities. This book explores, for the first time, the links between welfare state provision and teenage reproductive behaviour across a range of countries with differing welfare regimes. Drawing on both welfare state and feminist literature, as well as on new empirical evidence, the book compares public policy responses to teenage parenthood in each 'family' of welfare regime: Nordic, Liberal and Continental (Western European); analyses the different socio-political contexts in which teenage pregnancy is constructed as a social problem and identifies best practice in Europe and the USA. Countries included in the study are the UK, USA, New Zealand, France, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Canadian province of Quebec and Russia. The contributors are all internationally recognised experts in the fields of welfare and/or gender studies. When children become parents is important reading for a wide audience of students, policy makers, practitioners and academics in sociology, social policy, social geography, education, psychology, and youth and gender studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-171-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of figures and tables
    (pp. v-v)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-vi)
  5. Notes on contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  6. ONE Introduction: the construction of teenage pregnancy as a social problem
    (pp. 1-18)
    Anne Daguerre and Corinne Nativel

    The title of this volume,When children become parents, is deliberately provocative. Indeed, in the US, this slogan has been used to render teenage pregnancy a key social concern (Pearce, 1993;Maynard, 1997). The phrase implicitly denies teenagers the capacity to make autonomous choices since young people are not considered as adults (Pearce, 1993, p 46). The main reason why this phenomenon has become a public issue is because successive governments, regardless of their political orientations, have portrayed it as a social problem since the early 1980s. As delayed childbearing is becoming the norm in Western societies, teenage pregnancy is being...

  7. Part One: Liberal welfare states

    • TWO Young single mothers and ‘welfare reform’ in the US
      (pp. 21-44)
      Christine Carter McLaughlin and Kristin Luker

      Teenage pregnancy in the US is a topic rife with moral inferences and political implications. Three important questions surround the increasing tendency for adolescent childbearing to be cited as evidence of social and moral decline in the US. First, why did policymakers in the US declare an ‘epidemic’ of teenage pregnancies at precisely the time that birth rates to adolescents were actually beginning to decline? Second, why did lawmakers revoke financial support for poor mothers — including the young mothers who most need help — as a response to the said ‘epidemic’? Finally, if teenage pregnancy is perhapsnotan epidemic, is...

    • THREE Teenage pregnancy in New Zealand: changing social policy paradigms
      (pp. 45-66)
      Georg Menz

      The high rates of teenage pregnancy among Anglophone countries are striking and New Zealand is no exception in this regard. Three quarters of all 760,000 births to teenage mothers are accounted for by the six Anglophone Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. In 1998, there were 29.8 births to women below the age of 20 per 1,000 15- to 19-year-olds, which is the third highest rate among the OECD countries, behind the UK (30.8) and the US (52.1) (UNICEF, 2001). Meanwhile, Western and especially Northern European countries record rates between one half and one fifth of this. Equally...

    • FOUR Teenage pregnancy and parenthood in England
      (pp. 67-88)
      Anne Daguerre

      England has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe, standing, in 2003,at 42.1 conceptions per 1,000 girls under the age of 18. England has been called a ‘baby factory’ by some sections of the media. The issue of teenage pregnancy was highlighted in May 2005 by the case of three sisters in Derby (North England). One sister became pregnant at the age of 12 and the other two at ages 14 and 16 respectively. The Minister for Children and Families, Beverley Hughes, described the case as ‘a tragic loss of opportunity’ (The Guardian, 26 May 2005).

      Teenage pregnancy has...

  8. Part Two: Continental and Scandinavian welfare states

    • FIVE Approaches to teenage motherhood in Québec, Canada
      (pp. 91-114)
      Johanne Charbonneau

      A number of recent Québec policy initiatives in such areas as vocational integration, school attendance, social services and family support services have targeted young mothers under the age of 20. The circumstances of those young women contrast sharply with those of older women, who are opting to start a family later or even forego children altogether. Indeed, the low fertility rate among Québec women stirs regular debates. Why then, does early parenthood pose a problem in need of special attention?

      This is the question that this chapter seeks to address. It provides a discussion of early pregnancy and motherhood as...

    • SIX Teenage pregnancy and reproductive politics in France
      (pp. 115-138)
      Corinne Nativel

      On 17 January 2005, France was celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Veil law. This landmark in contemporary French social history legalised the right to abortion, closely following the Neuwirth law on free access to the contraceptive pill.¹ The ‘second contraceptive revolution’ emerged in the midst of the 1968 feminist battles, ² which paved the path for significant changes in the sexual reproductive behaviour of the French, including that of teenagers (Mossuz–Lavau, 2002; Jaspard, 2005). The existing consensus is based on two assumptions: first, that fertility is under control; and second, that childbearing is strongly associated with adulthood, a...

    • SEVEN Early motherhood in Italy: explaining the ‘invisibility’ of a social phenomenon
      (pp. 139-160)
      Elisabetta Pernigotti and Elisabetta Ruspini

      This chapter focuses on the peculiarities of early motherhood in Italy.¹ Italy is undoubtedly an interesting case study as it displays one of the lowest teenage birth rates within the countries of the Organisation of Economic Co–operation and Development (OECD). With a birth rate of 6.6 children per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19, it ranks in sixth position — behind Korea, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden — in the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF’s) league table of teenage births (Singh and Darroch, 2000; UNICEF, 2001). This fact can be explained through the mix of continuity and diversity that characterises...

    • EIGHT Teenage reproductive behaviour in Denmark and Norway: lessons from the Nordic welfare state
      (pp. 161-182)
      Lisbeth B. Knudsen and Ann-Karin Valle

      The populations in the Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – are well known for being open about sexual topics, for the widespread use of contraceptives and for a somewhat pragmatic attitude in this respect. Non–marital sexual activity is generally accepted, and cohabitation is a more common family form for young people than marriage. In recent years, more than half of first-born babies in Denmark were born into a cohabiting family.

      The acceptance of both non– and pre–marital sexual activity is concomitant to the acceptance of adolescent sexuality – at least above the age of sexual consent which...

  9. Part Three: Transition states

    • NINE Meeting the challenge of new teenage reproductive behaviour in Russia
      (pp. 185-202)
      Elena Ivanova

      Teenage motherhood as a consequence of early marriage was widespread in Russia during the 20th century. The interest in the phenomenon of adolescent motherhood appeared in the early 1990s, at a time of considerable increase in teenage birth rates. However, by the early 2000s young people’s fertility rates dropped to the level observed in the 1970s. How can we interpret these changes? Do they represent a reaction to reforms in the welfare system? Are they the result of the erosion of traditional marriage and family values and rising individualism among the young generation? Indeed, changing family formation patterns reflect new...

    • TEN Teenage pregnancy in Poland: between laissez-faire and religious backlash
      (pp. 203-224)
      Stéphane Portet

      In Poland, teenage pregnancy seems invisible. Only a few newspaper articles mention this issue and there is neither political discussion nor a real action plan concerning early motherhood. However, even if the number of teenage pregnancies tends be small, this phenomenon remains significant. Although teenage pregnancy is not publicly discussed, by contrast issues such as sexual and reproductive rights, especially abortion and sex education, are at the centre of the political debate. These highly controversial issues structure the political agenda and define political alliances and divisions, but teenage births remain taboo. The prudishness that characterised the communist period is still...

    • ELEVEN Conclusion: welfare states and the politics of teenage pregnancy: lessons from cross-national comparisons
      (pp. 225-240)
      Corinne Nativel and Anne Daguerre

      In this book we have developed new insights into the politics of teenage pregnancy by drawing together examples from across different types of welfare regimes in the industrialised world. The main message has been that welfare state institutions, policies and narratives are critical to our understanding of early motherhood in ‘varieties of capitalist states’.

      There are, of course, strong and ongoing theoretical debates in the social sciences about whether essentialist or social constructionist theories should be retained to explain teenage motherhood (Musick, 1993; Hacking, 2003). Notwithstanding the personal and sociopsychological factors that help explain the onset of teenage pregnancy, we...

  10. Statistical appendix: Teenage fertility in OECD countries
    (pp. 241-246)
  11. Index
    (pp. 247-253)