IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/17964.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Explaining Recent Trends in the U.S. Teen Birth Rate

Author

Listed:
  • Melissa Schettini Kearney
  • Phillip B. Levine

Abstract

We investigate trends in the U.S. rate of teen childbearing between 1981 and 2010, giving particular attention to the sizable decline that has occurred since 1991. Our primary focus is on establishing the role of state-level demographic changes, economic conditions, and targeted policies in driving recent aggregate trends. We offer three main observations. First, the recent decline cannot be explained by the changing racial and ethnic composition of teens; in fact, all else equal, a rising share of Hispanic teens would have led to an increase in teen childbearing. A temporary increase in the share of teens aged 18-19 can account for nearly half of the transitory increase in teen childbearing around 1991. Second, the only targeted policies that have had a statistically discernible impact on teen birth rates are declining welfare benefits and expanded access to family planning services through Medicaid. However, the combined effect of these two policies is estimated to account for only 12 percent of the observed decline in teen childbearing from 1991-2010. Third, weak labor market conditions, as measured by the unemployment rate, do appear to lead to lower teen birth rates and can account for 28 percent of the decline in teen birth rates since the Great Recession began.

Suggested Citation

  • Melissa Schettini Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2012. "Explaining Recent Trends in the U.S. Teen Birth Rate," NBER Working Papers 17964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17964
    Note: CH LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17964.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Bruce D. Meyer & Dan T. Rosenbaum, 2001. "Welfare, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Labor Supply of Single Mothers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 1063-1114.
    2. Joseph J. Sabia, 2006. "Does sex education affect adolescent sexual behaviors and health?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(4), pages 783-802.
    3. Joseph Sabia, 2008. "Blacks and the family cap: pregnancy, abortion, and spillovers," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 21(1), pages 111-134, January.
    4. Girma, Sourafel & Paton, David, 2011. "The impact of emergency birth control on teen pregnancy and STIs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 373-380, March.
    5. Joyce Ted & Kaestner Robert & Korenman Sanders, 2003. "Welfare Reform and Non-Marital Fertility in the 1990s: Evidence from Birth Records," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-36, December.
    6. Melissa Schettini Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2011. "Income Inequality and Early Non-Marital Childbearing: An Economic Exploration of the "Culture of Despair"," NBER Working Papers 17157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2004. "Is There an Effect of Incremental Welfare Benefits on Fertility Behavior?: A Look at the Family Cap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    8. Anna Aizer & ASara McLanahan, 2006. "The Impact of Child Support Enforcement on Fertility, Parental Investments, and Child Well-Being," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(1).
    9. Paul Offner, 2005. "Welfare Reform and Teenage Girls," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(2), pages 306-322.
    10. Jeff Grogger & Stephen G. Bronars, 2001. "The Effect of Welfare Payments on the Marriage and Fertility Behavior of Unwed Mothers: Results from a Twins Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 529-545, June.
    11. Robert Kaestner & Sanders Korenman & June O'Neill, 2003. "Has welfare reform changed teenage behaviors?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(2), pages 225-248.
    12. Ann Horvath-Rose & H. Peters & Joseph Sabia, 2008. "Capping Kids: The Family Cap and Nonmarital Childbearing," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 27(2), pages 119-138, April.
    13. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2006.089169_8 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
    15. Christopher Trenholm & Barbara Devaney & Kenneth Fortson & Melissa Clark & Lisa Quay & Justin Wheeler, "undated". "Impacts of Abstinence Education on Teen Sexual Activity, Risk of Pregnancy, and Risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 07c254b39a974b8498917396d, Mathematica Policy Research.
    16. Christopher Trenholm & Barbara Devaney & Kenneth Fortson & Melissa Clark & Lisa Quay & Justin Wheeler, 2008. "Impacts of abstinence education on teen sexual activity, risk of pregnancy, and risk of sexually transmitted diseases," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2), pages 255-276.
    17. Leonard M. Lopoo & Thomas DeLeire, 2006. "Did welfare reform influence the fertility of young teens?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(2), pages 275-298.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2015. "Media Influences on Social Outcomes: The Impact of MTV's 16 and Pregnant on Teen Childbearing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(12), pages 3597-3632, December.
    2. Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2012. "Why Is the Teen Birth Rate in the United States So High and Why Does It Matter?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 141-163, Spring.
    3. Robert Cherry & Chun Wang, 2015. "Labor Market Conditions and US Teen Birth Rates, 2001–2009," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 408-420, September.
    4. Shoshana Grossbard & Victoria Vernon, 2017. "Common Law Marriage and Teen Births," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 129-145, March.
    5. Chloe N. East & Sarah Miller & Marianne Page & Laura R. Wherry, 2017. "Multi-generational Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net: Early Life Exposure to Medicaid and the Next Generation’s Health," NBER Working Papers 23810, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. repec:gam:jsoctx:v:6:y:2015:i:1:p:1:d:61259 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jennifer Manlove & Quentin Karpilow & Kate Welti & Adam Thomas, 2015. "Linking Changes in Contraceptive Use to Declines in Teen Pregnancy Rates," Societies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(1), pages 1-14, December.
    8. Rafael Novella & Laura Ripani, 2016. "Are you (not) expecting? The unforeseen benefits of job training on teenage pregnancy," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-18, December.
    9. Paula England & Lawrence Wu & Emily Shafer, 2013. "Cohort Trends in Premarital First Births: What Role for the Retreat From Marriage?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(6), pages 2075-2104, December.
    10. Rafael Novella & Laura Ripani, 2015. "Are You (Not) Expecting?: The Unforeseen Benefits of Job Training on Teenage Pregnancy," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7366, Inter-American Development Bank.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17964. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.