Teenage mothers often single for a long time

20/09/2005 16:00

For years now, the Netherlands has been one of the countries with the lowest rates of teenage motherhood. In 2004 3 thousand babies were born to mothers who were younger than 20. This means that only one in 65 newborn babies had a teenage mother. Even fewer babies had a teenage father.

Children with a single mother by mother’s age at birth, 1 January 2005
Children with a single mother by mother’s age at birth, 1 January 2005

One in three teenage mothers is single

Children of teenage mothers are more likely to live with only their mother than children with older mothers. Over one third of children with a young mother live in a one parent family. For children of mothers who were around thirty when they had their children this is one tenth. 

Many young mothers stay single for a long time

Although some single teenage mothers move in with a partner at some time, most of them live alone with their children for a prolonged period. The percentage of children of teenage mothers living with only their mother decreases only slowly as they grow up: 39 percent of 0-4 year-olds live in a one-parent family, compared with 30 percent of 10-14 year-olds. For children with older mothers, on the other hand,  this percentage increases from 6 to 13 percent.

Children of teenage mothers in single parent households by ethnic origin, 1 January 2005

Children of teenage mothers in single parent households by ethnic origin, 1 January 2005

Antillean single mothers

Nearly half of teenage mothers in the Netherlands are non-western foreigners.  The risk  for a young mother to become a single parent differs strongly by ethnic origin. Antillean/Aruban girls not only have the highest risk of being a teenage mother, they also have the highest risk of being a single parent. More than seven out of every ten children of teenage mothers in this ethnic group grow up in a single parent family. In a number of African groups, too, (girls from Angola, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Cape Verde) young single mothers are a relatively common occurrence.

Most Turkish and Moroccan teenage mothers married The situation for Turkish and Moroccan girls in the Netherlands is very different. Although teenage mothers are relatively more common than among native Dutch girls, by far most of them are married when they have their babies. Most of them marry and start a family under the age of twenty.

Children of teenage mothers by ethnic origin and father’s age, 1 January 2005

Children of teenage mothers by ethnic origin and father’s age, 1 January 2005

Father often not officially known

For about one in five children younger than 15 years born to a teenage mother there is no official information about the father. This information is lacking for only 2 percent of Turkish and Moroccan children. The percentage is by far highest for children of Antillean teenage mothers: for 58 percent of these children, there is no official information about their fathers. The fathers about whom information is known were usually no longer teenagers.
About one in seven babies of teenage mothers also have a teenage father. This percentage varies from just over 1 percent among Moroccans, to 20 percent among Antilleans.

Joop Garssen and Carel Harmsen