IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Early teen marriage and future poverty

  • Gordon Dahl


Both early teen marriage and dropping out of high school have historically been associated with a variety of negative outcomes, including higher poverty rates throughout life. Are these negative outcomes due to pre-existing differences or do they represent the causal effect of marriage and schooling choices? To better understand the true personal and societal consequences, this paper uses an instrumental variables approach which takes advantage of variation in state laws regulating the age at which individuals are allowed to marry, drop out of school, and begin work. The baseline IV estimate indicates that a woman who marries young is 31 percentage points more likely to live in poverty when she is older. Similarly, a woman who drops out of school is 11 percentage points more likely to be poor. The results are robust to a variety of alternative specifications and estimation methods, including LIML estimation and a control function approach. While grouped OLS estimates for the early teen marriage variable are also large, OLS estimates based on individual-level data are small, consistent with a large amount of measurement error.

(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

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:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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.

Article provided by Springer in its journal Demography.

Volume (Year): 47 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 689-718

in new window

Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:47:y:2010:i:3:p:689-718
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

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. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  2. Hunt, Jennifer, 2003. "Teen Births Keep American Crime High," CEPR Discussion Papers 3906, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Margo, Robert A. & Aldrich Finegan, T., 1996. "Compulsory schooling legislation and school attendance in turn-of-the century America: A 'natural experiment' approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 103-110, October.
  4. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2001. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," NBER Working Papers 8605, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hausman, Jerry, 2015. "Specification tests in econometrics," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 38(2), pages 112-134.
  6. Gordon B. Dahl, 2005. "Early Teen Marriage and Future Poverty," NBER Working Papers 11328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jason M. Fletcher & Barbara L. Wolfe, 2008. "Education and Labor Market Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Evidence Using the Timing of Pregnancy Outcomes and Community Fixed Effects," NBER Working Papers 13847, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence Katz, 2003. "Mass Secondary Schooling and the State," NBER Working Papers 10075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Rebecca M. Blank & Kerwin Kofi Charles & James M. Sallee, 2007. "Do State Laws Affect the Age of Marriage? A Cautionary Tale About Avoidance Behavior," NBER Working Papers 13667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "Why the United States Led in Education: Lessons from Secondary School Expansion, 1910 to 1940," NBER Working Papers 6144, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mark C. Berger & J. Paul Leigh, 1989. "Schooling, Self-Selection, and Health," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(3), pages 433-455.
  12. Geronimus, Arline T & Korenman, Sanders, 1992. "The Socioeconomic Consequences of Teen Childbearing Reconsidered," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1187-214, November.
  13. Joshua D. Angrist & William N. Evans, 1996. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of the 1970 State Abortion Reforms," NBER Working Papers 5406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. Ribar, David C, 1994. "Teenage Fertility and High School Completion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 413-24, August.
  16. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1986. "Marriage and Divorce: Informational Constraints and Private Contracting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 437-54, June.
  17. Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin & Lori L. Taylor, 1996. "Aggregation and the Estimated Effects of School Resources," NBER Working Papers 5548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page & Ann Huff Stevens, 2003. "Does Human Capital Transfer from Parent to Child? The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," NBER Working Papers 10164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," NBER Working Papers 10175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2002. "Were Compulsory Attendance and Child Labor Laws Effective? An Analysis from 1915 to 1939," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 401-35, October.
  21. Moffitt, Robert, 1992. "Incentive Effects of the U.S. Welfare System: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(1), pages 1-61, March.
  22. Mary Jo Bane & David T. Ellwood, 1986. "Slipping into and out of Poverty: The Dynamics of Spells," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-23.
  23. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 1997. "On two stage least squares estimation of the average treatment effect in a random coefficient model," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 129-133, October.
  24. Garen, John, 1984. "The Returns to Schooling: A Selectivity Bias Approach with a Continuous Choice Variable," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(5), pages 1199-1218, September.
  25. Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," Research Papers 1819, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  26. Daniel Klepinger & Shelly Lundberg & Robert Plotnick, 1999. "How Does Adolescent Fertility Affect the Human Capital and Wages of Young Women?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 34(3), pages 421-448.
  27. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-87, December.
  28. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  29. Adam Ashcraft & Kevin Lang, 2006. "The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing," NBER Working Papers 12485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Paul J. Devereux, 2004. "Fast times at Ridgemont High? The effect of compulsory schooling laws on teenage births," Open Access publications 10197/751, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  31. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  32. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  33. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Risky Behavior Among Youths: An Economic Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Claudia Goldin, 1999. "A Brief History of Education in the United States," NBER Historical Working Papers 0119, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  35. Goldin, Claudia, 1998. "America's Graduation from High School: The Evolution and Spread of Secondary Schooling in the Twentieth Century," Scholarly Articles 2664307, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  36. James Heckman & Edward Vytlacil, 1998. "Instrumental Variables Methods for the Correlated Random Coefficient Model: Estimating the Average Rate of Return to Schooling When the Return is Correlated with Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 974-987.
  37. Hotz, V Joseph & Mullin, Charles H & Sanders, Seth G, 1997. "Bounding Causal Effects Using Data from a Contaminated Natural Experiment: Analysing the Effects of Teenage Childbearing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 575-603, October.
  38. Marcelo J. Moreira, 2003. "A Conditional Likelihood Ratio Test for Structural Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1027-1048, 07.
  39. Parkman, Allen M, 1992. "Unilateral Divorce and the Labor-Force Participation Rate of Married Women, Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 671-78, June.
  40. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "A Theory of Marriage," NBER Chapters, in: Economics of the Family: Marriage, Children, and Human Capital, pages 299-351 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  41. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1978. "The Estimation of a Simultaneous Equation Generalized Probit Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1193-1205, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:47:y:2010:i:3:p:689-718. 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: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Christopher F Baum)

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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.