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

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

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10911.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10911.

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Date of creation: Nov 2004
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10911
Note: CH ED LS
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  1. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  2. Katz, Lawrence & Goldin, Claudia, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Scholarly Articles 2624453, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Shelly Lundberg & Daniel Klepinger & Robert Plotnick, 1998. "Teen Childbearing and Human Capital: Does Timing Matter?," Working Papers 0057, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  4. Sandra Black & Paul Devereux & Kjell Salvanes, 2004. "Why the apple doesn't fall far: understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital," Working Paper Series 2004-12, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 1278-86, December.
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  8. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2003. "Are Idle Hands the Devil's Workshop? Incapacitation, Concentration, and Juvenile Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1560-1577, December.
  9. Black, Sandra & Devereux, Paul J. & Salvanes, Kjell G, 2003. "Why the Apple Doesn't Fall: Understanding Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," CEPR Discussion Papers 4150, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Do Dropouts Drop Out Too Soon? Evidence from Changes in School-Leaving Laws," Working Papers oreo-03-01, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  11. Jennifer Hunt, 2003. "Teen Births Keep American Crime High," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 343, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  12. Marco Francesconi, 2008. "Adult Outcomes for Children of Teenage Mothers," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 110(1), pages 93-117, 03.
  13. Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2002. "The Relationship Between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States," NBER Working Papers 8986, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence Katz, 2003. "Mass Secondary Schooling and the State," NBER Working Papers 10075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2003. "Ability, parental background and educational policy: empirical evidence from a social experiment," IFS Working Papers W03/05, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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