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The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing

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  • Adam Ashcraft
  • Kevin Lang

Abstract

We examine the effect of teenage childbearing on the adult outcomes of a sample of women who gave birth, miscarried or had an abortion as teenagers. If miscarriages are (conditionally) random, then if all miscarriages occur before teenagers can obtain abortions, using the absence of a miscarriage as an instrument for a live birth provides a consistent estimate of the effect of teenage motherhood on women who give birth. If all abortions occur before any miscarriage can occur, OLS on the sample of women who either have a live birth or miscarry provides an unbiased estimate of this effect. Under reasonable assumptions, IV underestimates and OLS overestimates the effect of teenage motherhood on adult outcomes. For a variety of outcomes, the two estimates provide a narrow bound on the effect of teenage motherhood on adult outcomes and which is relatively modest. The bounds can also be combined to provide consistent estimates of the effects of teen motherhood. These effects are generally adverse but modest.

Suggested Citation

  • Adam Ashcraft & Kevin Lang, 2006. "The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing," NBER Working Papers 12485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12485
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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).
    2. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420.
    3. David B. Hertz, 1972. "Discussion," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(4-Part-2), pages 35-36, December.
    4. 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.
    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. Angrist, Joshua D & Evans, William N, 1998. "Children and Their Parents' Labor Supply: Evidence from Exogenous Variation in Family Size," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 450-477, June.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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