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Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing

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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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13436.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Publication status: published as Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing , Melissa S. Kearney, Phillip B. Levine. in The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective , Gruber. 2009
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13436

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  1. Phillip B. Levine, 2000. "The Sexual Activity and Birth Control Use of American Teenagers," NBER Working Papers 7601, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
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Cited by:
  1. Grönqvist, Hans & Hall, Caroline, 2011. "Education policy and early fertility: Lessons from an expansion of upper secondary schooling," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2011:20, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  2. 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).

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