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We excluded six of these young mothers because of missing information on key variables, which resulted in a final sample of 673 15-17-year-olds.In all of the results presented, we weighted the data to adjust for the NMIHS sampling design and nonresponse.While births to young mothers and older men raise social concerns, these births make up a small share of all teenage childbearing: Only 8% of all births to 15-19-year-olds are to unmarried minors with a partner five or more years older.(Family Planning Perspectives,-66, 1997) Public attention has become focused on the role of "predatory"* adult men in teenage childbearing.The median age difference appears to be five years.Statutory rape laws are not uniformly enforced, however.In three of the five states examined, the statutory provisions do not even apply to 17-year-old women, but to those 16 and younger.The minimum age difference required for a felony offense ranges from three to seven years, with Florida not specifying an age restriction for men who engage in sexual intercourse with women younger than 16.
Analyses of the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey indicate, however, that these policies would not apply to most teenage births.
First, regardless of the mother's age, the pattern of fathers being slightly older than mothers fits squarely within societal norms.
For example, in 1988, babies born to women aged 21-30 were fathered by men who were, on average, three years older than their partner.
After weighting, 34% of these young women were black, 18% were Hispanic and 48% were white or of "other" races (Asian, Aleutian Islander and American Indian).
Almost equal proportions lived in households with an annual income of less than ,000 and in households with an income of more than ,000 (51% vs. The NMIHS data were also used to identify 5,040 22-30-year-old males who fathered a child in 1988.