Research Report Young Parents Making Their Way: Combining Education and Work while Parenting
Nathan Sick, Carolyn Vilter, Shayne Spaulding
Display Date
Download Report
(305.65 KB)

More than 40 percent of children in the United States are born to parents who had their first child when they were young (under age 25). Many of these young parents work and participate in education to advance their career prospects and improve their families’ economic security. Managing those responsibilities is challenging, and parents may need support to succeed. In this report, we analyze data on young parents (people who had their first child between the ages 16 to 24) from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. We investigate the patterns of work and education young parents engage in from the birth of their first child until they are 30 years old. We find that a higher cumulative share of time spent combining work and education is associated with increased earnings at age 30 while time spent in neither work nor education (being “disconnected”) is associated with earnings decreases. Furthermore, initial characteristics of young parents (such as their demographic group or their education status when they had their first child) affect earnings at age 30, and economic disparities persist or become greater over time. We summarize possible approaches programs can take to engage and support young parents.

Research Areas Education Wealth and financial well-being Children and youth Families Social safety net Race and equity Workforce
Tags Employment Families with low incomes Higher education Workforce development Poverty Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Economic well-being Public service and subsidized employment programs Family and household data Employment and income data Racial and ethnic disparities School funding Child care Wages and nonwage compensation Financial knowledge and capability Secondary education Workers in low-wage jobs Wealth inequality Job training Parenting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Unemployment and unemployment insurance Work-family balance Youth employment and training Supplemental nutrition - Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Beyond high school: education and training Inequality and mobility Kids in context Racial barriers to accessing the safety net Racial equity in education Racial inequities in employment Hunger and food assistance Child care and workers Student parents Building America’s Workforce
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center
Related content