According to a study conducted at Australian National University (ANU) children of older mothers perform best at school and develop advanced social skills.
The study, conducted by economists Andrew Leigh, of the ANU, and Xiaodong Gong, of the Treasury Department, found that children born to teenage mothers fared worse on average than children born to mothers in their 20’s, with children born to mothers in their 30’s faring best of all.
The study though, after taking into account factors such as family income and other socioeconomic factors, found that there was no difference between the age groups.
”For cognitive outcomes, young motherhood appears to be a marker, not a cause of poor child outcomes,” Professor Leigh said.
”Really, we know the kinds of women who tend to have kids early tend to have lower education levels, are less likely to be married and likely to have lower incomes, so it’s those other things that are really driving it,” Professor Leigh said.
Older mothers, as a byproduct of simply having lived longer, had higher average levels of education combined with better paying jobs, which afforded their children better outcomes across the spectrum measured in the study. This leads to potential policy recommendations aimed at shrinking the economic divide felt by younger mothers.
“If you are looking to target some money at kids at risk they would be children of young mums, but if you wanted to change something, telling women to have kids a little older isn’t likely to make a big difference.” Professor Leigh said.