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March 2023Vol. 24, No. 2Simulation Finds Preventing Births to Teens Can Have Long-Term Socioeconomic Benefits

Results from a Child Trends simulation demonstrate that preventing births to teenagers may have positive effects on education, physical and mental health, earnings, poverty, and lifetime income. The simulation used the Social Genome Model, a microsimulation tool that projects how changes that take place early in someone’s life course impact their adulthood. Specifically, this simulation projects how adolescents’ outcomes may have been different later in life if they had not had a child by age 19.


Of the population used in the Social Genome Model, approximately 17 percent were determined “likely” to have a child by age 19. The simulation changed that probability to zero, allowing the researchers to observe how that change might affect those adolescents’ futures.


Using the model, researchers examined projected outcomes at various life stages. At age 24, which is labeled the “transition to adulthood,” they analyzed educational attainment, mental and physical health, and the income-to-poverty ratio. At age 30, “adulthood,” they analyzed bachelor’s degree attainment and earnings. Based on those results, projected lifetime earnings through age 65 were determined. The simulation took into account differences based on gender, race, and ethnicity.


The following are some of the simulation’s specific projections of what occurs when teenage births are prevented:


  • There are notable improvements to physical and mental health, particularly the mental health of women overall and especially Black women.
  • High school diploma attainment increases by at least 6 percentage points for White men and up to 18 percentage points for Black men.
  • By age 24, household incomes increase substantially relative to the poverty level, particularly for women.
  • By age 30, bachelor’s degree attainment increases by 5 percentage points for men and 7 percentage points for women. The groups who have the greatest education gains include White men, White women, Hispanic women, and Black women.
  • By age 30, annual earnings increase by approximately $384.
  • Lifetime earnings at age 65 increase by an average of $49,125 for women and $38,448 for men. Hispanic women have the greatest increase in lifetime earnings, followed by Black men and women in general.


The full report, Preventing Births to Teens Is Associated With Long-term Health and Socioeconomic Benefits, According to Simulation, is available on the Child Trends website.