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Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing

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  • Melissa S. Kearney
  • Phillip B. Levine

Abstract

We examine the empirical relationship between socioeconomic disadvantage and rates of early childbearing. First, we use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to confirm a strong correlation at the individual level - women who grow up "disadvantaged" are much more likely to give birth as teens. Then we aggregate Vital Statistics microdata from 1968 through 2003 to conduct a cohort-based analysis of the relationship between rates of socioeconomic disadvantage of a birth cohort and the cohort's subsequent early childbearing experiences. Our cohort level analysis implies an even tighter intergenerational correlation between rates of background disadvantage and early childbearing. But, when our analysis econometrically controls for fixed state and year of birth effects in the model to account for cultural and other differences across cohorts, the relationship between rates of disadvantage and early childbearing is found to be quite modest. For example, the elasticity of early childbearing rates by age 18 with respect to the probability of being born to a mother under age 18 is only 0.05. This suggests that broader, societal forces are far more important in determining rates of early childbearing than rates of socioeconomic disadvantage per se.

Suggested Citation

  • Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2007. "Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing," NBER Working Papers 13436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13436
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Grönqvist, Hans & Hall, Caroline, 2013. "Education policy and early fertility: Lessons from an expansion of upper secondary schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 13-33.
    2. Kruger, Diana & Berthelon, Matias & Navia, Rodrigo, 2009. "Adolescent Motherhood and Secondary Schooling in Chile," IZA Discussion Papers 4552, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Grönqvist, Hans, 2009. "Putting teenagers on the pill: the consequences of subsidized contraception," Working Paper Series 2009:8, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

    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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