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Education and Labor Market Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Evidence Using the Timing of Pregnancy Outcomes and Community Fixed Effects

  • Jason M. Fletcher
  • Barbara L. Wolfe

The question of whether giving birth as a teenager has negative economic consequences for the mother remains controversial despite substantial research. In this paper, we build upon existing literature, especially the literature that uses the experience of teenagers who had a miscarriage as the appropriate comparison group. We show that miscarriages are not random events, but rather are likely correlated with (unobserved) community-level factors, casting some doubt on previous findings. Including community-level fixed effects in our specifications lead to important changes in our estimates. By making use of information on the timing of miscarriages as well as birth control choices preceding the teenage pregnancies we construct more relevant control groups for teenage mothers. We find evidence that teenage childbearing likely reduces the probability of receiving a high school diploma by 5 to 10 percentage points, reduces annual income as a young adult by $1,000 to $2,400, and may increase the probability of receiving cash assistance and decrease years of schooling.

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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 44 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 ()

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:44:y:2009:i2:p303-325
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  1. David C. Ribar, 1999. "The socioeconomic consequences of young women's childbearing: Reconciling disparate evidence," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 547-565.
  2. Ribar, D., 1991. "Teenage Fertility and High Scholl Completion," Papers 10-91-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  3. D. Klepinger & S. Lundberg & R. Plotnick, . "How Does Adolescent Fertility Affect the Human Capital and Wages of Young Women?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1145-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  4. V. Joseph Hotz & Susan Williams McElroy & Seth G. Sanders, 1999. "Teenage Childbearing and Its Life Cycle Consequences: Exploiting a Natural Experiment," JCPR Working Papers 157, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  5. Adam Ashcraft & Kevin Lang, 2006. "The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing," NBER Working Papers 12485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Saul D. Hoffman, 2003. "The Socio-Economic Effects of Teen Childbearing Re-Considered: A Re-Analysis of the Teen Miscarriage Experiment," Working Papers 03-08, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
  7. Wolfe, Barbara & Wilson, Kathryn & Haveman, Robert, 2001. "The role of economic incentives in teenage nonmarital childbearing choices," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(3), pages 473-511, September.
  8. 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 303-26, March.
  9. Barbara Wolfe & Robert Haveman & Karen Pence & Jonathan Schwabish, 2007. "Do youth nonmarital childbearing choices reflect income and relationship expectations?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 73-100, February.
  10. An, Chong-Bum & Haveman, Robert & Wolfe, Barbara, 1993. "Teen Out-of-Wedlock Births and Welfare Receipt: The Role of Childhood Events and Economic Circumstances," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(2), pages 195-208, May.
  11. 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.
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