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Grandparents, Moms, or Dads? Why children of teen mothers do worse in life

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  • Devereux, Paul J.
  • Aizer, Anna
  • Salvanes, Kjell G

Abstract

Women who give birth as teens have worse subsequent educational and labor market outcomes than women who have first births at older ages. However, previous research has attributed much of these effects to selection rather than a causal effect of teen childbearing. Despite this, there are still reasons to believe that children of teen mothers may do worse as their mothers may be less mature, have fewer financial resources when the child is young, and may partner with fathers of lower quality. Using Norwegian register data, we compare outcomes of children of sisters who have first births at different ages. Our evidence suggests that the causal effect of being a child of a teen mother is much smaller than that implied by the cross-sectional differences but that there are probably still significant long-term, adverse consequences, especially for children born to the youngest teen mothers. Unlike previous research, we have information on fathers and find that negative selection of fathers of children born to teen mothers plays an important role in producing inferior child outcomes. These effects are particularly large for mothers from higher socio-economic groups. Our data also enable us to examine the effect of age at first birth across a range of maternal ages. Importantly, while we find that child outcomes are worst for those born to teen mothers, outcomes improve with mothers’ age at first birth until mothers are in their mid-20s and then flatten out.

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  • Devereux, Paul J. & Aizer, Anna & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2020. "Grandparents, Moms, or Dads? Why children of teen mothers do worse in life," CEPR Discussion Papers 15353, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:15353
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    2. Zuleika Ferre & Patricia Triunfo & José‐Ignacio Antón, 2023. "Subdermal contraceptive implants and repeat teenage motherhood: Evidence from a major maternity hospital‐based program in Uruguay," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(12), pages 2679-2693, December.
    3. Borra, Cristina & González, Libertad & Patiño, David, 2023. "School Starting Age and Infant Health," IZA Discussion Papers 16676, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Devon Gorry, 2023. "Consequences of Teenage Childbearing on Child Outcomes in the United States," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 42(1), pages 225-254, January.
    5. Bhalotra, Sonia & Clarke, Damian & Walther, Selma, 2022. "Women's Careers and Family Formation," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1120, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    6. Seshadri, Ananth & Zhou, Anson, 2022. "Intergenerational mobility begins before birth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 1-20.
    7. Fredriksson, Peter & Huttunen, Kristiina & Öckert, Björn, 2022. "School starting age, maternal age at birth, and child outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    8. Anna Bárdits & Gábor Kertesi, 2024. "Family foster care or residential care: the impact of home environment on children raised in state care," CERS-IE WORKING PAPERS 2403, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Teen childbearing; Child outcomes; Human capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

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