Ethnicity and Effects of Age Gap Between Unmarried Adolescent Mothers and Partners

Document Type


Publication Date



Sage Publications


This article examines ethnic differences in the effects of the age gap between unmarried adolescent mothers and their partners. Effects are identified both for unmarried adolescent mothers and their children who, between 1986 and 1988, had participated in programs for pregnant and parenting adolescents located in poor, resource-deprived communities across Illinois. Partners of one out of five Black adolescents were at least 5 years older than the unmarried adolescent; an age gap this large was reported by one out of four White mothers. Examination of multivariate lo git models suggested that the effects of large age gaps between unmarried adolescent mothers and their partners were potentially positive for children but negative for mothers. These results, however, held for White but not for Black adolescents and their children. The findings highlight the necessity for interventions that simultaneously address the needs of the unmarried adolescent mother, her partner, and their child.