While there is extensive and compelling evidence that growing up in an impoverished background leads to early fertility, few studies explain why early socioeconomic disadvantage leads to early childbearing. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I test whether gender ideology, as well as educational and occupational aspirations, mediates the connection between poverty and teen fertility patterns. Traditional gender ideology depresses age at first motherhood. Adolescent aspirations appear to act as protective factors in the production of early pregnancy.

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