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Teenage Childbearing and Its Life Cycle Consequences: Exploiting a Natural Experiment

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  • V. Joseph Hotz
  • Susan Williams McElroy
  • Seth G. Sanders

Abstract

We exploit a “natural experiment” associated with human reproduction to identify the causal effect of teen childbearing on the socioeconomic attainment of teen mothers. We exploit the fact that some women who become pregnant experience a miscarriage and do not have a live birth. Using miscarriages an instrumental variable, we estimate the effect of teen mothers not delaying their childbearing on their subsequent attainment. We find that many of the negative consequences of teenage childbearing are much smaller than those found in previous studies. For most outcomes, the adverse consequences of early childbearing are short-lived. Finally, for annual hours of work and earnings, we find that a teen mother would have lower levels of each at older ages if they had delayed their childbearing.

Suggested Citation

  • V. Joseph Hotz & Susan Williams McElroy & Seth G. Sanders, 2005. "Teenage Childbearing and Its Life Cycle Consequences: Exploiting a Natural Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:40:y:2005:i:2:p683-715
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1995. "Sisters, Siblings, and Mothers: The Effect of Teen-Age Childbearing on Birth Outcomes in a Dynamic Family Context," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(2), pages 303-326, March.
    2. Cameron, Stephen V & Heckman, James J, 1993. "The Nonequivalence of High School Equivalents," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 1-47, January.
    3. Angrist, J.D. & Imbens, G.W., 1991. "Sources of Identifying Information in Evaluation Models," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1568, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    4. V. Joseph Hotz & Charles H. Mullin & Seth G. Sanders, 1997. "Bounding Causal Effects Using Data from a Contaminated Natural Experiment: Analysing the Effects of Teenage Childbearing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 575-603.
    5. Bronars, Stephen G & Grogger, Jeff, 1994. "The Economic Consequences of Unwed Motherhood: Using Twin Births as a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1141-1156, December.
    6. Ribar, D.C., 1992. "Teenage Fertility and Early Adult Labor Force Participation," Papers 4-92-1, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
    7. James J. Heckman, 1991. "Randomization and Social Policy Evaluation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Josefine Card, 1981. "Long-term consequences for children of teenage parents," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(2), pages 137-156, May.
    9. Horowitz, Joel L & Manski, Charles F, 1995. "Identification and Robustness with Contaminated and Corrupted Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(2), pages 281-302, March.
    10. Arline T. Geronimus & Sanders Korenman, 1992. "The Socioeconomic Consequences of Teen Childbearing Reconsidered," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1187-1214.
    11. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-442, June.
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