Does the association between teen births or abortions and educational attainment vary by socioeconomic background in Finland?

Heini Väisänen


Teen mothers often have a lower socioeconomic position as adults than other women due to selection, opportunity costs of childbearing, or both. Few studies examine whether that is the case after an induced abortion as well. Also, few studies explore whether the strength of the association between teen pregnancy and adulthood socioeconomic position differs by family background. This study uses Finnish register data of 53,252 women born between 1975 and 1979 to examine with logistic regression whether the likelihood of having tertiary education depends differently on teen birth and abortion experiences by parental socioeconomic position. I also control for and report whether having a partner providing childcare helps mitigate the negative association between teen motherhood and education. The results show teen mothers had lower odds than those who aborted to have tertiary education, and both groups were behind those with no teen pregnancy. These groups’ education did not vary statistically significantly by family background, although the gap in the probability of having tertiary education between teen mothers and those with no teen pregnancy among the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds was 43%-points, and only 27%-points among the highest. Teen mothers with and without a partner had similar probabilities of having tertiary education (8– 11%). Those who had an abortion and subsequently separated from their partner, however, had similar probability of having tertiary education as teen mothers (13%), although others who had an abortion had a much higher probability (20%). Selection shapes these relationships. Survey and register data should be combined to study these associations using methods of causal inference.


teenage pregnancy; induced abortion; Finland; register data; socioeconomic position

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