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Teenage childbearing and cognitive development


  • John V. Pepper

    () (Department of Economics, University of Virginia, 114 Rouss Hall, P.O. Box 400182, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182, USA)

  • Michael J. Brien

    () (Arthor Andersen LLP, 1666 K Street NW, Washington, DC, 20006-2873, USA)

  • Gregory E. Loya

    () (Prometheus Technologies LLC, 13607 Day Run Rd., Clear Spring, MD, 21722)


In this paper we examine how having a child as a teen affects the cognitive development of young women as measured on standardized tests. The research in this paper makes use of the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, a biennial survey that contains information on a cohort of young women from the time they were in the 8th grade in 1988 until, the latest wave, 1994. By observing two test scores before a woman has a child and one test score after, we can control for both the level and growth in test scores experienced prior to childbirth. The results indicate that although teenage mothers have lower cognitive test scores than their counterparts without children, the effects of childbearing itself are negligible.

Suggested Citation

  • John V. Pepper & Michael J. Brien & Gregory E. Loya, 2002. "Teenage childbearing and cognitive development," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(3), pages 391-416.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:15:y:2002:i:3:p:391-416
    Note: Received: 23 August 2000/Accepted: 02 January 2001

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Narendranathan, W & Stewart, Mark B, 1993. "How Does the Benefit Effect Vary as Unemployment Spells Lengthen?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(4), pages 361-381, Oct.-Dec..
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    6. Jackman, Richard & Layard, Richard & Manacorda, Marco & Petrongolo, Barbara, 1997. "European versus US unemployment: different responses to increased demand for skill?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2174, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Francesconi, 2008. "Adult Outcomes for Children of Teenage Mothers," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(1), pages 93-117, March.
    2. Trinh Le & Guyonne Kalb & Felix Leung, 2015. "Outcomes for teenage mothers in the first years after birth," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 18(3), pages 255-279.
    3. Kaplan, Greg & Goodman, Alissa & Walker, Ian, 2004. "Understanding the Effects of Early Motherhood in Britain: The Effects on Mothers," IZA Discussion Papers 1131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Teenage childbearing · Cognitive development · nonrandom selection;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth


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