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Postponing childbearing beyond the teenage years is now adaptive practice for European Americans. European American adults put this cultural priority into action and employ substantial social resources to disseminate the social control message meant for their youth that teenage childbearing has disastrous consequences. Yet, patterns of fertility-timing are culturally and historically variable. Early fertility-timing patterns may constitute adaptive practice for African American residents of high-poverty urban areas, in no small measure because they contend with structural constraints that shorten healthy life expectancy. The entrenched cultural interdependence of and social inequality between European and African Americans lead African Americans to be highly visible and vulnerable targets of moral condemnation for their fertility behaviour. This, in turn, sets up African Americans to pay a particularly high price politically, psychosocially, and in terms of their health.