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Abiola Lapite: Are you one of those people who think government welfare policies have little or no effect on the choices people make in life? If so, the following article from the Independent just might make you begin to reconsider your position.
Teenage girls who get pregnant are deliberately "planning" to become mothers in the belief that a baby will improve the quality of their lives.

An extensive study published today reveals that girls as young as 13 are making a "career choice" by deciding to have children, since they see parenting as preferable to working in a dead-end job.

The findings from the Trust for the Study of Adolescence challenges the assumption that schoolgirl mothers are all irresponsible adolescents who are ignorant about using contraception. The revelation that teenage girls are actively choosing motherhood is backed up by official figures obtained by this paper which show that nearly a quarter of pregnancies to under 18s are second children.

The research will have huge implications for government policy, which gives little acknowledgement to the fact that some girls see motherhood as the right decision for them. Britain has highest teenage pregnancy rate in Europe, with an estimated cost to the Government of at least £63m a year. The parts of the country that have most teenage births are areas of poverty and high unemployment; girls from low-income families are 10 times more likely to become teenage mothers than those from affluent backgrounds.

The research, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, was based on interviews with 13- to 22-year-old mothers living in six deprived parts of Britain who had either taken a fatalistic attitude to getting pregnant by stopping taking contraception or who had actively planned to have a child with the support of their partners.
Something for both the "We just need more sex education!" and anti-abortion brigades to consider:
All the interviewees were well aware how to protect against pregnancy and were strongly anti-abortion. Nearly three-quarters were in steady relationships with the father of their child. Only a handful of girls said they regretted getting pregnant. The vast majority said their lives had improved after having children, that having a baby had "corrected" their deprived childhoods and turned them away from destructive behaviour such as drink and drug abuse.

Experts say that the truth about planned teenage pregnancies has been masked until now because health workers often assume they happen accidentally and because young girls tend to keep their true motives secret.

The study's authors are calling on ministers to use sex education classes to highlight the fact that fertility is at its highest in adolescence. They hope to target girls who leave pregnancy to chance by offering them alternatives and to use those who have had negative experiences to educate others about the downsides. But they also pose the question whether teenage pregnancy should always be avoided, given the positive experiences of the girls surveyed.

Aimee Marsh did not intend to get pregnant at the age of 15 but had discussed the possibility with her 18-year-old boyfriend, Lee. Their baby daughter, Demi-Leigh, was born 13 days ago and Ms Marsh, now 16, is planning to have three children in total, though she intends to wait until she is 25. "It is not as hard as I thought it would be," says Ms Marsh, from Plymouth, who hopes to go to college to do a hair and beauty course. "There is still some prejudice around young mums, but you can have kids at any age as long as you enjoy life and it brings you happiness."
I think the above statements by Ms. Marsh inadvertantly touch upon two fundamental facts which are left unmentioned in the course of this entire article despite looming so large in the background. The first issue is the exact reason why single-motherhood "is not as hard as I thought it would be" for an uneducated 16-year old girl with a no doubt similarly underqualified 18-year old boyfriend: in developed countries, children are expensive to raise properly, so why is it that two people with such poor prospects of decent employment are able to contemplate having three with equanimity? The answer, in case you haven't caught on by now, is that Britain's welfare system lavishes free housing, healthcare and spending money on girls who get knocked up as to make it worth the while of particularly unambitious types to choose pushing prams over stocking shelves in the local Sainsburys. The British government heavily subsidizes teenage motherhood, so it's no surprise that Britain gets so much more of it.

The second issue touched upon in the utterances of Aimee Marsh is the question of social disapproval as a means of controlling wayward behavior; in particular, when she says "There is still some prejudice around young mums", what she's also saying in the background is that such "prejudice" [sic] as exists is nowhere nearly as strong as it used to be, rendering the choice to get knocked up at 15 a much more palatable option than it formerly was. Ms. Marsh is clearly aware of something those who try to lift the banner of "you can't disapprove of anything" hedonism under the label "libertarianism" don't: that people want the respect and approval of their acquaintances, and to get it they'll often forgo all sorts of nasty temptations even without the heavy hand of government to threaten them. Societies and cultures which admire learning and erudition will tend to produce scholars, those which glorify thugs and drug dealers will breed future prison inmates in profusion, those which hold up swindlers and thieves as heroes will bring forth lots of crooks, and those which, like Britain, have almost completely destigmatized teenage pregnancy, will get lots of ignorant teenagers with council-house facelifts pushing around prams carrying tomorrow's loitering, uneducated and crime-prone "youf". Furthermore, it is pretty much impossible to argue in a welfare state against handing out council flats and unemployment benefit to 15 year old girls with babies without making a moral argument that there's something inherently wrong with their situation: the choice to suspend all judgment of personal choices in the name of "libertarianism" entails the suspension of all judgment in who gets subsidized for what, once one accepts in principle that the very idea of subsidizing certain behaviors or states of existence isn't inherently wrong - as essentially all politically pragmatic libertarian movements must in our day and age. [Source]

related items:
For many adolescent girls, pregnancy may be no accident, Mahalanobis
dsquared (guest) meinte am 17. Jul, 13:29:
Gosh, such moralism
and once we reach the end of that compendium of cliche, we get to the following facts

1. Britain is subsidising motherhood
2. Britain has a higher birthrate than other European countries (except France which also subsidises motherhood).

and the following non-facts

3. Crime is rising in the UK (it isn't)
4. Overall levels of education are falling in the UK (the opposite is the case)

Having children isn't illegal and isn't "delinquency" and shouldn't be a choice reserved to the rich. This article is a fantastic example of why an egalitarian libertarianism is much better than the kind where public policy starts and stops at the rate of income tax, to be replaced by a puckered-mouth tutting at the actual choices made by actual people. 
Mahalanobis antwortete am 17. Jul, 16:55:
...
ad high birth rate:
It is not the quantity that counts, it is, of course, the quality-adjusted quantity. (From an investment perspective, it could be easily argued that rich people should receive more child support than poor people).

My cousine (25 years old) saw parenting as preferable to working as a salesclerk. Since she isn't mentally retarded I attribute the fact that she ended up with three kids (originating from two different males) partially to hyperbolic discounting but mainly to ill-constructed welfare incentives. What's interesting: My mother and the parents of my cousine have a tenement near the place she lives. Before she got pregnant for a third time they offered her and her boyfriend (both unemployed) to do some work on the house (e.g. cleaning, renovating) for almost twice the minimum wage. Believe it or not, but they declined the offer and asked in the same breath whether they could have an apartment at this place...

Data is plural but I've already heard quite a couple of horror stories. 
dsquared (guest) antwortete am 18. Jul, 09:43:
[It is not the quantity that counts, it is, of course, the quality-adjusted quantity.]

What kind of quality-adjustment are you proposing to make under which it is possible for a large proportion of the births in the UK to be negative net contributors to the economy? 
Mahalanobis antwortete am 18. Jul, 15:10:
When parents lack the mental and financial resources to adequately prepare their kids for a knowledge-based economy and can't pass on a certain work ethic alarm bells ought to be ringing. Misery breeds misery.

At the end of the day, most kids will end up in low paid jobs that could either be automated or offshored. And I have to listen to stupid talk about the alleged exploitation of labour. 
Paul N (guest) meinte am 18. Jul, 02:19:
Flynn Effect notwithstanding, has anyone estimated the path of developed country IQ distribution considering known heritability of IQ and variable birth rates of IQ groups?