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Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing

In: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective

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  • Melissa S. Kearney
  • Phillip B. Levine

Abstract

We examine the empirical relationship between socioeconomic disadvantage and rates of early childbearing. First, we use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to confirm a strong correlation at the individual level - women who grow up "disadvantaged" are much more likely to give birth as teens. Then we aggregate Vital Statistics microdata from 1968 through 2003 to conduct a cohort-based analysis of the relationship between rates of socioeconomic disadvantage of a birth cohort and the cohort's subsequent early childbearing experiences. Our cohort level analysis implies an even tighter intergenerational correlation between rates of background disadvantage and early childbearing. But, when our analysis econometrically controls for fixed state and year of birth effects in the model to account for cultural and other differences across cohorts, the relationship between rates of disadvantage and early childbearing is found to be quite modest. For example, the elasticity of early childbearing rates by age 18 with respect to the probability of being born to a mother under age 18 is only 0.05. This suggests that broader, societal forces are far more important in determining rates of early childbearing than rates of socioeconomic disadvantage per se.

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This chapter was published in:

  • Jonathan Gruber, 2009. "The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number grub07-2, July.
    This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 0583.

    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:0583

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    1. Phillip B. Levine, 2000. "The Sexual Activity and Birth Control Use of American Teenagers," JCPR Working Papers 161, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    2. Ted O'Donoghue and Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Risky Behavior Among Youths: Some Issues from Behavioral Economics," Economics Working Papers E00-285, University of California at Berkeley.
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    8. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
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    25. David I. Levine & Gary Painter, 2003. "The Schooling Costs of Teenage Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing: Analysis with a Within-School Propensity-Score-Matching Estimator," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 884-900, November.
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    Cited by:
    1. Kruger, Diana & Berthelon, Matias & Navia, Rodrigo, 2009. "Adolescent Motherhood and Secondary Schooling in Chile," IZA Discussion Papers 4552, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Grönqvist, Hans & Hall, Caroline, 2011. "Education policy and early fertility: lessons from an expansion of upper secondary schooling," Working Paper Series 2011:24, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

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