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Teenage childbearing in Great Britain and the spatial concentration of poverty households
  1. A McCulloch
  1. Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK
  1. Mr McCulloch (amccul{at}


STUDY OBJECTIVE To investigate the association between the spatial concentration of deprived households and teenage non-marital childbearing. Associations with area deprivation are tested before and after allowing for levels of personal deprivation.

DESIGN AND SETTING The individual data are derived from the 2% sample of anonymised records (SAR) from the census of 1991 in Great Britain, and are combined with area data from the 278 districts of residence identifiable in the SAR.

PARTICIPANTS Sample is restricted to unmarried women living at home (with at least one parent) and aged 16 to 19.

MAIN RESULTS The results suggest generally higher risk of teenage childbearing for women who are economically inactive, women from households with no access to a car or households resident in local authority accomodation. Without adjusting for personal circumstances, the risk of teenage pregnancy shows a clear, significant and approximately linear association with social deprivation of area of residence in 1991. Residual analysis shows that many urban areas have much higher levels of teenage childbearing than expected. When adjustment is made for personal disadvantage the simple association with local area deprivation is attenuated. A higher risk of teenage childbearing is still seen in urban areas while the areas having the highest negative differentials are heterogeneous.

CONCLUSIONS Both individual and spatial characteristics are important in influencing levels of teenage childbearing. Teenage childbearing shows an association with residence in more deprived areas. The association seems to be largely because residence in more deprived areas is associated with personal disadvantage, which increases the risk of teenage childbearing. Area characteristics are of lesser significance in determining teenage non-marital childbearing than individual and household characteristics.

  • teenage preganancy
  • poverty

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  • Funding: this study was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of their Cities Programme. Grant number L130251010.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.