Pathways to 'off-time' motherhood in the United Kingdom: the timing and sequencing of childhood antecedents

Maria C. Huerta, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Wendy Sigle-Rushton, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

A number of studies have examined the antecedents of early motherhood, and these have provided good evidence that young mothers are more likely to come from poorer families, to have experienced a parental divorce and to have had low academic test scores (Kiernan 1997; Hobcraft 1998; Hobcraft and Kiernan 1999). However, the experience, timing, and duration of these experiences are all likely to be important. Using data from a 1970 cohort of British women, this paper builds on previous work to consider the timing of events explicitly - in early childhood, pre-adolescence and adolescence. For example, we will be able to assess not just whether parental divorce is a risk factor but how the timing of parental divorce and the duration of time spent with one parent are associated with early motherhood. Moreover, our models will shed light on the cumulative effects of different childhood experiences and trajectories. Results from these analyses will help us to identify those development stages in which children are most vulnerable to adversity and to identify those pathways that are most strongly associated with early motherhood.

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Presented in Session 26: Open forum 1