Monday, September 29, 2008

Where Poor Young Fathers Come From

A study of very young men, 16 - 22, at a health clinic in Philadelphia compared the ones who had fathered children with the ones who had not. None of these guys were married; only a couple (out of 91) were virgins. The average age for first intercourse was about the same - 13 vs. 14. The key difference was that the guys who did not have children had had father figures - 82% vs. 50% - and they themselves had a plan for their lives.

One striking difference between the two groups was how they approached sex. The non-fathers had sex much less often, and were much more likely to use contraceptives when they did. Among the fathers, 70% reported having intercourse more than once a month (the highest frequency category they could choose), and 55% reported that they never used contraceptives. No wonder they had babies. One wonders about the women they had these babies with, since nearly half of the fathers (45%) said up front that they did not expect to support their children.


Anonymous said...

Would you expect any skew in the data because of where this was taken (urban area) vs. suburban or rural areas?

Gruntled said...

Yes, I think so. Cities are more likely to have neighborhoods of concentrated fatherlessness, which makes a difference in what the boys think is normal. Still, show me a teenage boy anywhere with no father and no plan, and I would expect him to have a much higher likelihood of making babies with any girl who will let him.