Predictors of Early Childbearing: Evidence from the Chicago Longitudinal Study

Mersky, J.P., Reynolds, A. (2007). Predictors of early childbearing: Evidence from the Chicago Longitudinal Study. Children and Youth Services Review.


Using prospective data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS), we investigated the effects of early childhood and school-age predictors on female childbearing, including participation in the Chicago Child-Parent Center (CPC) Program, and related family and school behaviors.

The CLS follows the progress of a single cohort of 1539 low-income, minority children who attended the CPCs and other public early childhood programs in 1985–1986. Birth records were obtained for 706 females (92% of original sample) from survey data collected between ages 22–24 and supplemental public aid and school records.

Results from regression and survival analyses indicated that the CPC program had a limited impact on childbearing patterns. There was no evidence that preschool participation was associated with lower rates of early childbearing. CPC school-age participation was linked to significantly lower rates of multiple births by age 20.

The most consistent predictor of a female’s childbearing status was her parent’s educational attainment. Parent involvement in elementary school, children’s enrollment in magnet schools, AFDC receipt, and teacher ratings of acting out behavior also were significant predictors of early childbearing. Implications for the tailoring of future interventions are discussed.

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