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Teen pregnancy and "internal poverty".

Girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens if they have low educational expectations and are not confident that they'll graduate from high school. These "internal poverty" indicators are among the variables contributing most to teen pregnancy, according to a study at the University of Arkansas.

Internal poverty describes a person's lack of internal resources, such as attitudes and beliefs that attribute outcomes to individual effort, high future expectations, and few perceived limitations for life options.

In addition to low educational confidence and expectations, teenage girls who became pregnant also reported feeling that their future job choices were limited.

Girls who later became pregnant were likely also to experience external poverty, such as parents with lower occupational, educational, or economic status. Girls often perceived their parents as having lower educational expectations of them, and reported that they did not know the reasons their parents told them to do the things they told them to do. This hints at authoritarian parenting, according to Tamera Young, who led the University of Arkansas research.

Future teen mothers also showed an external locus of control, meaning the girls believed that their lives are controlled by fate, luck, or powerful people, as opposed to their own personal behaviors.

Young points out that her findings suggest a need for early career education that emphasizes opportunities, education necessary for those opportunities, and the resources available to achieve that education. She also stresses the importance of family environments that nurture, educate, empower, and teach self-regulation.

Source: University of Arkansas, University Relations, 800 Hotz Hall, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701. Web site

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Title Annotation:Demography
Author:Coles, Clifton
Publication:The Futurist
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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