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The Schooling Costs of Teenage Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing: Analysis with a Within-School Propensity-Score-Matching Estimator


  • David I. Levine

    (Haas School of Business, University of California)

  • Gary Painter

    (School of Policy, Planning, and Development, University of Southern California)


Teen out-of-wedlock mothers have lower education and earnings than do peers who have children later. This study uses the National Educational Longitudinal Survey of 1988 to examine the extent to which the apparent effects of out-of-wedlock teen childbearing are due to preexisting disadvantages of the young women and their families. We use a novel method that matches teen mothers to similar young women in their junior high school (that is, prior to pregnancy). We find that out-of-wedlock fertility reduces education substantially, although far less than the cross-sectional comparisons of means suggest. We further find that this effect is larger among those with lower probabilities of having a child out of wedlock. © 2003 President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • David I. Levine & Gary Painter, 2003. "The Schooling Costs of Teenage Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing: Analysis with a Within-School Propensity-Score-Matching Estimator," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 884-900, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:85:y:2003:i:4:p:884-900

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid


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