Doing it for the country

This study should cause all sorts of public policy head scratching and hair pulling but will undoubtedly be ignored. It suggests that motherhood, not marriage, reduces the chances of disadvantaged young women getting involved in drug use and delinquency.

A special award to the first politician to argue that young women should be getting up the duff rather than married for the benefit of society, and full marks to the first one that realises that such complex social problems can’t be solved by simple solutions whether that be marriage, pregnancy or whatever else is flavour of the month (Americans: ‘up the duff’ is British slang for ‘blessed with child’).

Motherhood and criminal desistance in disadvantaged neighborhoods

Criminology, Volume 48 Issue 1, Pages 221 – 258

Derek A. Kreager, Ross L. Matsueda, Elena A. Erosheva

Evidence from several qualitative studies has suggested that the transition to motherhood has strong inhibitory effects on the delinquency and drug use trajectories of poor women. Quantitative studies, however, typically have failed to find significant parenthood or motherhood effects. We argue that the latter research typically has not examined motherhood in disadvantaged settings or applied the appropriate statistical method. Focusing on within-individual change, we test the motherhood hypothesis using data from a 10-year longitudinal study of more than 500 women living in disadvantaged Denver communities. We find that the transition to motherhood is associated significantly with reductions in delinquency, marijuana, and alcohol behaviors. Moreover, we find that the effect of motherhood is larger than that of marriage for all outcomes. These results support the qualitative findings and suggest that the transition to motherhood—and not marriage—is the primary turning point for disadvantaged women to exit delinquent and drug-using trajectories.

Link to summary and DOI entry for study.


  1. Marek
    Posted March 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    Better still, if we can engineer it so they have girls instead of boys, we can improve their health along with their delinquency:

  2. Posted March 23, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    It makes sense to me. Carrying and then
    caring for an infant is a bigger life
    change then marriage.

  3. Kapitano
    Posted March 25, 2010 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    Is this from The Institute for Painfully Working Out the Thuddingly Obvious?
    Motherhood is a much greater responsibility than marriage. It’s also a lot more difficult to sideline, or downplay.
    You can ignore or cheat on your husband quite easily. But your baby?

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