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The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing Before Roe v Wade

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  • Kevin Lang
  • Russell Weinstein

Abstract

Using data from three cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth, we investigate whether there were adverse consequences of teenage childbearing in the 1950s and 1960s, when most abortions were illegal, and access to the pill was limited. We find negative effects of teen motherhood on the likelihood of obtaining at least 12 years of education and on the number of marriages. We find positive effects of teen motherhood on family income, and, unsurprisingly, on the number of children. These effects are heterogeneous by predicted education. For those with high levels of predicted education, giving birth does not affect educational attainment but increases the probability of being divorced. For those predicted to be on the margin of high school completion, giving birth has strong negative effects on 12th grade completion and age at first marriage, while increasing the probability of never having married. In general, for less advantaged teens, motherhood appears to have increased expected family income but also the risk of not graduating from high school and never marrying. We find surprisingly little evidence that births affected teens conceiving pre- and post-marriage differently.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Lang & Russell Weinstein, 2013. "The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing Before Roe v Wade," NBER Working Papers 19627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19627
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    1. Adam Ashcraft & Iván Fernández‐Val & Kevin Lang, 2013. "The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Consistent Estimates When Abortion Makes Miscarriage Non‐random," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123, pages 875-905, September.
    2. Kevin Lang & Ana Nuevo-Chiquero, 2012. "Trends in Self-reported Spontaneous Abortions: 1970–2000," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(3), pages 989-1009, August.
    3. Kaplan, Greg & Goodman, Alissa & Walker, Ian, 2004. "Understanding the Effects of Early Motherhood in Britain: The Effects on Mothers," IZA Discussion Papers 1131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Arnaud Chevalier & Tarja K. Viitanen & Tarja K. Viitanen, 2003. "The long-run labour market consequences of teenage motherhood in Britain," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 16(2), pages 323-343, May.
    5. Ribar, David C, 1994. "Teenage Fertility and High School Completion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 413-424, August.
    6. Ermisch, John & Pevalin, David J., 2003. "Does a 'teen-birth' have longer-term impacts on the mother? evidence from the 1970 British Cohort Study," ISER Working Paper Series 2003-28, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    7. Martha J. Bailey, 2013. "Fifty Years of Family Planning: New Evidence on the Long-Run Effects of Increasing Access to Contraception," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 44(1 (Spring), pages 341-409.
    8. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen & Michael L. Katz, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317.
    9. Jason M. Fletcher & Barbara L. Wolfe, 2009. "Education and Labor Market Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Evidence Using the Timing of Pregnancy Outcomes and Community Fixed Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(2).
    10. Adam Ashcraft & Kevin Lang, 2006. "The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing," NBER Working Papers 12485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. 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.
    12. 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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    Cited by:

    1. David SAHN & Catalina HERRERA, 2014. "The Impact of Early Childbearing on Schooling and Cognitive Skills among Young Women in Madagascar," Working Papers 201428, CERDI.
    2. repec:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:592-608 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Danielle H. Sandler & Lisa Schulkind, 2016. "The Timing of Teenage Births and the Signaling Value of a High School Degree," Working Papers 16-39, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    4. Fletcher, Jason M. & Polos, Jessica, 2017. "Nonmarital and Teen Fertility," IZA Discussion Papers 10833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. repec:eee:jhecon:v:57:y:2018:i:c:p:221-235 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Branson, Nicola & Byker, Tanya, 2018. "Causes and consequences of teen childbearing: Evidence from a reproductive health intervention in South Africa," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 221-235.
    7. Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner & Jesse Matheson, 2016. "Access to education and teenage childbearing," Discussion Papers in Economics 16/15, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
    8. Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner & Jesse Matheson, 2016. "Access to Education and Teenage Pregnancy," CINCH Working Paper Series 1604, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Aug 2016.
    9. Guldi, Melanie, 2016. "Title IX and the education of teen mothers," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 103-116.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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