The everyday hardships of teen motherhood come into public consciousness through media attention to and the prevalence of teen childbearing throughout the United States. The apparent adverse consequences of teen motherhood have become an important issue in the current debate over reforming the US welfare system. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) is a nationally representative sample of young men and women who were 14 to 21 years old in 1979. Thus, the teenage years of women in our study occurred between 1970 and 1985. The NLSY yields data on annual benefits received from Aid to Families with Dependent Children and food stamps, as well as the benefits from other social programs, including Supplemental Security Income and General Assistance. Teen mothers come from much more disadvantaged backgrounds than do women who delay childbearing. Failure to delay childbearing, though much smaller than suggested by the earlier comparisons, has a negative and lasting effect on a teen mother's marriage prospects.