Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Income Inequality and Early Non-Marital Childbearing: An Economic Exploration of the "Culture of Despair"

Contents:

Author Info

  • Melissa Schettini Kearney
  • Phillip B. Levine

Abstract

Using individual-level data from the United States and a number of other developed countries, we empirically investigate the role of income inequality in determining rates of early, non-marital childbearing among low socioeconomic status (SES) women. We present robust evidence that low SES women are more likely to give birth at a young age and outside of marriage when they live in more unequal places, all else held constant. Our results suggest that inequality itself, as opposed to other correlated geographic factors, drives this relationship. We calculate that differences in the level of inequality are able to explain a sizeable share of the geographic variation in teen fertility rates both across U.S. states and across developed countries. We propose a model of economic “despair” that facilitates the interpretation of our results. It reinterprets the sociological and ethnographic literature that emphasizes the role of economic marginalization and hopelessness into a parsimonious framework that captures the concept of “despair” with an individual’s perception of economic success. Our empirical results are consistent with the idea that income inequality heightens a sense of economic despair among those at the bottom of the distribution.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17157.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17157.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Jun 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Kearney, Melissa S. and Phillip Levine. “Income Inequality and Early, Non-Marital Childbearing,” Journal of Human Resources 49, Winter 2014: 1-31
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17157

Note: CH LS
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Angus Deaton & Darren Lubotsky, 2002. "Mortality, inequality and race in American cities and states," Working Papers, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies. 204, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  2. Lundberg, S. & Plotnick, R.D., 1994. "Adolescent Premarital Childbearing: Do Economic Incentives Matters?," Working Papers, University of Washington, Department of Economics 94-4, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  3. Gruber, Jonathan (ed.), 2001. "Risky Behavior among Youths," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226310138, 01-2013.
  4. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2008. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 414-427, August.
  5. Adam Ashcraft & Kevin Lang, 2006. "The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing," NBER Working Papers 12485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. O'Donoghue, Ted & Rabin, Matthew, 1997. "Doing It Now or Later," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley qt7t44m5b0, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  7. Greg Duncan & Saul Hoffman, 1990. "Welfare benefits, economic opportunities, and out-of-wedlock births among black teenage girls," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 519-535, November.
  8. Kevin Lang & Adam Ashcraft, 2010. "The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Consistent Estimates When Abortion Makes Miscarriage Nonrandom," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series, Boston University - Department of Economics WP2010-016, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  9. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2010. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 1-45, February.
  10. Robert A. Moffitt, 2003. "The Negative Income Tax and the Evolution of U.S. Welfare Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 119-140, Summer.
  11. Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2002. "Is There an Effect of Incremental Welfare Benefits on Fertility Behavior? A Look at the Family Cap," NBER Working Papers 9093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  13. An, Chong-Bum & Haveman, Robert & Wolfe, Barbara, 1993. "Teen Out-of-Wedlock Births and Welfare Receipt: The Role of Childhood Events and Economic Circumstances," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(2), pages 195-208, May.
  14. Levine, Phillip B., 2003. "Parental involvement laws and fertility behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 861-878, September.
  15. Corak, Miles, 2006. "Do Poor Children Become Poor Adults? Lessons from a Cross Country Comparison of Generational Earnings Mobility," IZA Discussion Papers 1993, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2012. "Why Is the Teen Birth Rate in the United States So High and Why Does It Matter?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 141-63, Spring.
  2. Grönqvist, Hans & Hall, Caroline, 2011. "Education policy and early fertility: Lessons from an expansion of upper secondary schooling," Working Paper Series, Swedish Institute for Social Research 14/2011, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  3. Melissa Schettini Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2012. "Explaining Recent Trends in the U.S. Teen Birth Rate," NBER Working Papers 17964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17157. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.