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The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing Before Roe v Wade

  • Kevin Lang
  • Russell Weinstein

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19627.

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Date of creation: Nov 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19627
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  1. Kaplan, Greg & Goodman, Alissa & Ian Walker, 2004. "Understanding The Effects Of Early Motherhood In Britain : The Effects On Mothers," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 706, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  2. Martha J. Bailey, 2013. "Fifty Years of Family Planning: New Evidence on the Long-Run Effects of Increasing Access to Contraception," NBER Working Papers 19493, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
  4. Arnaud Chevalier & Tarja K. Viitanen, 2002. "The long-run labour market consequences of teenage motherhood in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20093, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. 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).
  6. Adam Ashcraft & Kevin Lang, 2006. "The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing," NBER Working Papers 12485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ribar, D., 1991. "Teenage Fertility and High Scholl Completion," Papers 10-91-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  8. Kevin Lang & Adam Ashcraft, 2010. "The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Consistent Estimates When Abortion Makes Miscarriage Nonrandom," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2010-016, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  9. Kevin Lang & Ana Nuevo-Chiquero, 2012. "Trends in Self-reported Spontaneous Abortions: 1970–2000," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(3), pages 989-1009, August.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
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