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How Does Adolescent Fertility Affect the Human Capital and Wages of Young Women?

  • D. Klepinger
  • S. Lundberg
  • R. Plotnick

The consequences of teen childbearing for the future well-being of young women remain controversial. In this paper, we model and estimate the relationship between early childbearing and human capital investment, and its effect on wages in early adulthood. Taking advantage of a large set of potential instruments for fertility—principally state- and county-level indicators of the costs of fertility and fertility control—we use instrumental variables procedures to generate unbiased estimates of the effects of early fertility on education and work experience, and the effects of these outcomes on adult wages. For both black and white women, adolescent fertility substantially reduces years of formal education and teenage work experience. White teenage mothers also obtain less early adult work experience than young women who delay childbearing. We also find that, through these human capital effects, teenage childbearing has a significant effect on a young woman’s market wage at age 25. Our results, unlike those of recent “revisionist” studies, suggest that public policies that reduce teenage childbearing are likely to have positive effects on the economic well-being of many young mothers and their families.

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Paper provided by University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty in its series Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers with number 1145-97.

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Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1145-97
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  10. Ribar, D., 1991. "Teenage Fertility and High Scholl Completion," Papers 10-91-2, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  11. D. Klepinger & S. Lundberg & R. Plotnick, . "Instrument selection: The case of teenage childbearing and women's educational attainment," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1077-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  12. Blackburn, McKinley L & Neumark, David, 1995. "Are OLS Estimates of the Return to Schooling Biased Downward? Another Look," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 217-30, May.
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  17. repec:att:wimass:9312 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Schultz, T Paul, 1985. "The Demand for and Supply of Births: Fertility and Its Life Cycle Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(5), pages 992-1015, December.
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  27. Klepinger, D. & Lundberg, S. & Plotnick, R., 1994. "Adolescent Fertility and the Education Attainment of Young Women," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 94-5, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  28. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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