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A teen-age girl's awarness of what future opportunities she stands to lose by becoming pregnant is a strong factor in determining who is most likely to become a young unwed mother, according to a RAND Corporation report issued last week.

The report, "Beyond Stereotypes: Who Becomes a Single Teen-age Mother?'' describes the results of a survey of 13,000 high-school sophomores who in 1985 were asked the question: "Would you consider having a child if you weren't married?''

Of those who responded, 23 percent of the white, 29 percent of the Hispanic, and 41 percent of the black teen-agers said they would or might have a child out of wedlock.

A follow-up survey in 1987 found that those who initially ruled out the idea of pregnancy more successfully avoided it. Young women who had said they would consider pregnancy without marriage were two to three times more likely to have become single parents by the time of the second survey.

The survey found that black women who hoped to go to college had a dramatically lower nonmarital birth rate than their peers.

Based on interviews with the participants in the study, RAND researchers concluded that the attitudes of white teen-agers toward motherhood were most influenced by parents and the school peer milieu; those of Hispanic teen-agers were influenced most strongly by religious values; and those of black teens hinged on close parental supervision and a "conscious rejection'' of the stereotype of young, black women as unwed mothers.

The survey is available for $4 from the RAND Corporation, 1700 Main St., P.O. Box 2138, Santa Monica, Calif. 90406-2138.

Vol. 07, Issue 27

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