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How teen moms affect the economy, decades later

Just a couple extra years and a diploma for a teen mom might well change that woman's life. But it could also mean a substantially bigger paycheck for her child, nearly 30 years down the road. A recent report from the think tank Child Trends (and highlighted by the Brookings Institution) finds that later maternity and a diploma boost a teen mom's child's family income by $6,660 at 29.

Mobility and Teen Moms

Source: Child Trends

By using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, researchers ran simulations that found a little extra time before giving birth and just getting a high school diploma can improve her child's income to the tune of thousands of dollars per year decades later.

One caveat: this is one of those charts whose Y axes start way above zero, so it seems to suggest bigger bumps than are really there. The way it looks, incomes more than double with the addition of a high school diploma and two extra years before motherhood. Still, a $6,660 difference is a more than 13-percent bump over the baseline alternative of no diploma and a two-years-earlier maternity.

All of which is to say finding ways to help the youngest potential mothers delay childbearing and get an education does more than improve their lives; it boosts their children (and the broader economy).