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Fast Times at Ridgemont High? The Effect of Compulsory Schooling Laws on Teenage Births

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  • Sandra E. Black
  • Paul J. Devereaux
  • Kjell Salvanes

Abstract

Research suggests that teenage childbearing adversely affects both the outcomes of the mothers as well as those of their children. We know that low-educated women are more likely to have a teenage birth, but does this imply that policies that increase educational attainment reduce early fertility? This paper investigates whether increasing mandatory educational attainment through compulsory schooling legislation encourages women to delay childbearing. We use variation induced by changes in compulsory schooling laws in both the United States and Norway to estimate the effect in two very different institutional environments. We find evidence that increased compulsory schooling does in fact reduce the incidence of teenage childbearing in both the United States and Norway, and these results are quite robust to various specification checks. Somewhat surprisingly, we also find that the magnitude of these effects is quite similar in the two countries. These results suggest that legislation aimed at improving educational outcomes may have spillover effects onto the fertility decisions of teenagers.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereaux & Kjell Salvanes, 2004. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High? The Effect of Compulsory Schooling Laws on Teenage Births," NBER Working Papers 10911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10911
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Shelly Lundberg & Daniel Klepinger & Robert Plotnick, 1998. "Teen Childbearing and Human Capital: Does Timing Matter?," Working Papers 0057, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    2. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence Katz, 2003. "Mass Secondary Schooling and the State," NBER Working Papers 10075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Saul Hoffman & E. Foster & Frank Furstenberg, 1993. "Reevaluating the costs of teenage childbearing: Response to Geronimus and Korenman," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 30(2), pages 291-296, May.
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    5. Hunt, Jennifer, 2003. "Teen Births Keep American Crime High," CEPR Discussion Papers 3906, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. 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).
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    8. Harmon, Colm & Walker, Ian, 1995. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling for the United Kingdom," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1278-1286, December.
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    10. Marco Francesconi, 2008. "Adult Outcomes for Children of Teenage Mothers," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(1), pages 93-117, March.
    11. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall Far: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 437-449, March.
    12. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Leigh, Andrew & Ryan, Chris, 2008. "Estimating returns to education using different natural experiment techniques," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 149-160, April.
    2. Gordon Dahl, 2010. "Early teen marriage and future poverty," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 47(3), pages 689-718, August.
    3. Díaz Serrano, Lluís & Pérez, Jessica Helen, 2013. "Impact of Duration of Primary Education on School Enrollment, Graduation and Drop-outs: A Cross- Country Analysis," Working Papers 2072/220757, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.
    4. Chaga Lopes, Margarida & Fernandes, Graca, 2010. "Success/Failure in Higher Education:how long does it take to complete some core 1st. year disciplines?," MPRA Paper 21953, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Orazem, Peter & Glewwe, Paul & Patrinos, Harry, 2007. "The Benefits and Costs of Alternative Strategies to Improve Educational Outcomes," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12853, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    6. Justin McCrary & Heather Royer, 2011. "The Effect of Female Education on Fertility and Infant Health: Evidence from School Entry Policies Using Exact Date of Birth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 158-195, February.
    7. Ian Walker & Yu Zhu, 2009. "The Causal Effect of Teen Motherhood on Worklessness," Studies in Economics 0917, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    8. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page, 2006. "The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 729-760, October.
    9. Philip Oreopoulos, 2007. "Would More Compulsory Schooling Help Disadvantaged Youth? Evidence from Recent Changes to School-Leaving Laws," NBER Chapters,in: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective, pages 85-112 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Wolfgang Lutz & Vegard Skirbekk, 2005. "Policies Addressing the Tempo Effect in Low-Fertility Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(4), pages 699-720.
    11. Alexander Murray & Andrew Sharpe, 2011. "Human Capital and Productivity in British Columbia," CSLS Research Reports 2011-10, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    12. Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2007. "Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing," NBER Chapters,in: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective, pages 181-209 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Idil GOKSEL, "undated". "The determinants of the School Attainment in Turkey and the Imapct of the Extension of the Compulsory Education," EcoMod2008 23800045, EcoMod.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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