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Getting a piece of the pie? The economic boom of the 1990s and declining teen birth rates in the United States

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  • Colen, Cynthia G.
  • Geronimus, Arline T.
  • Phipps, Maureen G.

Abstract

In the United States, the 1990s was a decade of dramatic economic growth as well as a period characterized by substantial declines in teenage childbearing. This study examines whether falling teen fertility rates during the 1990s were responsive to expanding employment opportunities and whether the implementation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Act (PRWORA), increasing rates of incarceration, or restrictive abortion policies may have affected this association. Fixed-effects Poisson regression models were estimated to assess the relationship between age-specific birth rates and state-specific unemployment rates from 1990 to 1999 for Black and White females aged 10-29. Falling unemployment rates in the 1990s were associated with decreased childbearing among African-American women aged 15-24, but were largely unrelated to declines in fertility for Whites. For 18-19 year-old African-Americans, the group for whom teen childbearing is most normative, our model accounted for 85% of the decrease in rates of first births. Young Black women, especially older teens, may have adjusted their reproductive behavior to take advantage of expanded labor market opportunities.

Suggested Citation

  • Colen, Cynthia G. & Geronimus, Arline T. & Phipps, Maureen G., 2006. "Getting a piece of the pie? The economic boom of the 1990s and declining teen birth rates in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(6), pages 1531-1545, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:63:y:2006:i:6:p:1531-1545
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2015. "Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV's 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(12), pages 3597-3632, December.
    2. Hudson, Darrell L. & Puterman, Eli & Bibbins-Domingo, Kirsten & Matthews, Karen A. & Adler, Nancy E., 2013. "Race, life course socioeconomic position, racial discrimination, depressive symptoms and self-rated health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 7-14.
    3. Mishra, Sandeep & Lalumière, Martin, 2009. "Is the crime drop of the 1990s in Canada and the USA associated with a general decline in risky and health-related behavior?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 39-48, January.
    4. Kearney, Melissa S. & Levine, Phillip B., 2015. "Investigating recent trends in the U.S. teen birth rate," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 15-29.
    5. Liu, Sze Yan & Linkletter, Crystal D. & Loucks, Eric B. & Glymour, M. Maria & Buka, Stephen L., 2012. "Decreased births among black female adolescents following school desegregation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 982-988.

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