Why is the Teen Birth Rate in the United States so High and Why Does it Matter?
AbstractThis paper examines two aspects of teen childbearing in the United States. First, it reviews and synthesizes the evidence on the reasons why teen birth rates are so uniquely high in the United States and especially in some states. Second, it considers why and how it matters. We argue that economists' typical explanations are unable to account for any sizable share of the geographic variation. We describe some recent analysis indicating that the combination of being poor and living in a more unequal (and less mobile) location, like the United States, leads young women to choose early, non-marital childbearing at elevated rates, potentially because of their lower expectations of future economic success. Consistent with this view, the most rigorous studies on the topic find that teen childbearing has very little, if any, direct negative economic consequence. If it is explained by the low economic trajectory that some young women face, then it makes sense that having a child as a teen would not be an additional cause of poor economic outcomes. These findings lead us to conclude that the high rate of teen childbearing in the United States matters mostly because it is a marker of larger, underlying social problems.
Download InfoIf 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.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17965.
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Note: CH HE LS
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- 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, vol. 26(2), pages 141-63, Spring.
- I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert, 2013.
"Cohabitation and the Uneven Retreat from Marriage in the U.S., 1950-2010,"
IZA Discussion Papers
7607, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 2013. "Cohabitation and the Uneven Retreat from Marriage in the U.S., 1950-2010," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital in History: The American Record National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 2013. "Cohabitation and the Uneven Retreat from Marriage in the U.S., 1950-2010," NBER Working Papers 19413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Sandner, Malte, 2013. "Effects of Early Childhood Intervention on Maternal Employment, Fertility and Well-Being. Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial," Diskussionspapiere der Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen FakultÃ¤t der Leibniz UniversitÃ¤t Hannover dp-516, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
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.