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Keywords:

  • marriage;
  • nonmarital childbearing;
  • selection;
  • teenage childbearing

Research suggests that adult marriages confer benefits. Does marriage following a teenage birth confer benefits similar to those observed for adults? Longitudinal data from a community sample of 235 young women who gave birth as unmarried adolescents were used to examine this question. Controlling for socioeconomic status and preexisting “benefits,” we found that marriage conferred small, though statistically significant, benefits with regard to less economic adversity and less marijuana and polydrug use but no observable benefits with regard to alcohol or other drug use, poverty, psychological well-being, or high school completion, in contrast to prior findings. We conclude that in addition to the marriage benefits observed, stable intimate relationships, whether marital or not, appear to confer psychological benefits in this sample.