Using data from a panel of 459 women, we find that early parents (<20 years old at first birth) report higher levels of depressive symptoms in young adulthood (roughly age 29) compared to later parents (first birth in their 20s) or nonparents. Early parenting is also associated with more stressors and fewer resources in young adulthood. As young adults, early parents have lower educational attainment, less secure employment and a weaker sense of personal control; they also experience greater financial strain and more traumatic life events than later and nonparents. By the end of their 20s, early parents are also more likely to be single compared to late parents. The higher levels of depressive symptoms reported among early parents, compared to both later parents and nonparents, are primarily explained by their greater financial strain and lower sense of personal control.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The Youth Development Study is supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development ( HD 44138 ), “Work Experience and Mental Health: A Panel Study of Youth.” The National Institute of Mental Health (MH 42843) provided previous support for this research. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not represent the official views of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health.
- Mental health
- Parental timing
- Stress exposure