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The Economic Costs of Teen Births in Mississippi

September 8th, 2011

In 2009, teen births across Mississippi cost tax payers an estimated $155 million. The following post provides a snapshot of the cost of teen births in Mississippi.

Background on Teen Births in Mississippi

Across Mississippi, a total of 7,078 infants were born to teens ages 19 or younger in 2009.¹ Approximately one-third of those births were to women 17 years of age or younger. Teen childbearing impacts counties across Mississippi in both rural and urban areas. Additionally, Mississippi’s teen birth rate of 64.1 births per 1,000 teens ages 15-19 exceeds that national rate for women of the same age. Teen birth rates for white and non-white teens both exceed the national rates for their demographic group.²

Calculating Tax Payer Costs of Teen Births in 2009

In an effort to measure the broader economic impact of teen births in Mississippi, MEPC applied a model of tax payer costs developed by a nationally recognized team of researchers from across the country.³ The model analyzes costs associated with teen mothers, fathers and their children. These tax payer costs are conservative and cover three categories that combine for an overall tax payer cost in 2009.

In order from largest to smallest, the three categories of tax payer costs included in the calculation of $155 million are:

1. Lost tax revenue from lower wages and consumption of teen mothers and fathers, and lost tax revenue from lower wages of children of teen mothers as adults.

2. Costs of adverse consequences for children, which includes foster care costs and incarceration costs for children as adolescents and adults, and;

3. Costs of public assistance such as emergency food assistance and medical assistance.

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The majority of tax payer costs are associated with negative outcomes for the children of teen mothers and fathers, including lost tax revenue from their lower wages and consumption as adults and higher costs for the foster care and criminal justice systems. Tax payer costs provided would be saved if all would-be teen parents delayed childbearing until age 20 or 21.†

For additional background on methods for calculating costs associated with teen births in Mississippi, please see MEPC’s fact sheet.


Sarah Welker, Policy Analyst

¹Mississippi Department of Health Teen Vital Statistics, 2009
²Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. VitalStats: Birth Data Files.
³Hoffman, S. D., & Maynard, R. A. (2008). Kids having kids (2nd edition). Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.
†Hoffman, S. D., & Maynard, R. A. (2008). Kids having kids (2nd edition). Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press.

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