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Education and labor market consequences of teenage childbearing: evidence using the timing of pregnancy outcomes and community fixed effects

12 Feb 2008
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The question of whether giving birth as a teenager has negative economic consequences for the mother remains controversial despite substantial research. In this paper, the authors build upon existing literature, especially the literature that uses the experience of teenagers who had a miscarriage as the appropriate comparison group. They show that miscarriages are not random events, but rather are likely correlated with (unobserved) community-level factors, casting some doubt on previous findings. Including community-level fixed effects in their specifications lead to important changes in estimates. By making use of information on the timing of miscarriages as well as birth control choices preceding the teenage pregnancies the authors construct more relevant control groups for teenage mothers. They find evidence that teenage childbearing likely reduces the probability of receiving a high school diploma by 5 to 10 percentage points, reduces annual income as a young adult by $1,000 to $2,400, and may increase the probability of receiving cash assistance and decrease years of schooling.

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2008
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