IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/van/wpaper/0103.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Social Approval and Teenage Childbearing

Author

Listed:
  • Anandi Mani

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

  • Charles H. Mullin

    (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

We examine the phenomenon of "pockets of teenage illegitimacy" in a model of social approval, where attitudes to such illegitimacy are endogenously determined at a local community level. Both a woman's actual well-being and her community's perception of that well-being in each potential state - staying in school and early childbearing - impact her decisions. In particular, since individuals can better appreciate the successes and failures of those making similar choices as themselves, the accuracy of a community's perception of a woman's well-being increases in the fraction of her community who chose her state. With positive correlation in potential well-being across the two states, these imprecise community perceptions can lead to multiple steady states: Pockets of high/low illegitimacy emerge even though individuals do not, per se, derive utility from conformity. These pockets could be triggered off by public policy measures (such as AFDC), but also by exogenous "shocks" such as the urban middle class flight from the inner city - as suggested by Wilson (1987). A novel prediction of the model is that the lower the variability in potential well-being in the childbearing state, the more easily a community can become trapped in the high-illegitimacy steady state. So, programs such as EITC, which increase the variability in well-being among single mothers, may be more effective in reducing teenage illegitimacy, than traditional approaches, such as AFDC, which reduce this variability. Finally, these high-illegitimacy pockets may be more responsive to non-pecuniary measures such as integrated housing projects and mentors, which increase the diversity of a teenager's circle of social interaction, than individual financial incentives.

Suggested Citation

  • Anandi Mani & Charles H. Mullin, 2001. "Social Approval and Teenage Childbearing," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0103, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0103
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.accessecon.com/pubs/VUECON/vu01-w03.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2001
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas J. Nechyba, 2001. "Social Approval, Values, and AFDC: A Reexamination of the Illegitimacy Debate," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 637-666, June.
    2. Hilary Williamson Hoynes, 1996. "Work, Welfare, and Family Structure: What Have We Learned?," NBER Working Papers 5644, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Moffitt, Robert, 1983. "An Economic Model of Welfare Stigma," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1023-1035, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Illegitimacy; welfare; education; social approval;

    JEL classification:

    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

    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:van:wpaper:0103. 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: (John P. Conley). General contact details of provider: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/econ/wparchive/index.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.