Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing

43 Pages Posted: 24 Sep 2007 Last revised: 19 Sep 2010

See all articles by Melissa S. Kearney

Melissa S. Kearney

University of Maryland - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Phillip B. Levine

Wellesley College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: September 2007

Abstract

We examine the empirical relationship between socioeconomic disadvantage and rates of early childbearing. First, we use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to confirm a strong correlation at the individual level - women who grow up "disadvantaged" are much more likely to give birth as teens. Then we aggregate Vital Statistics microdata from 1968 through 2003 to conduct a cohort-based analysis of the relationship between rates of socioeconomic disadvantage of a birth cohort and the cohort's subsequent early childbearing experiences. Our cohort level analysis implies an even tighter intergenerational correlation between rates of background disadvantage and early childbearing. But, when our analysis econometrically controls for fixed state and year of birth effects in the model to account for cultural and other differences across cohorts, the relationship between rates of disadvantage and early childbearing is found to be quite modest. For example, the elasticity of early childbearing rates by age 18 with respect to the probability of being born to a mother under age 18 is only 0.05. This suggests that broader, societal forces are far more important in determining rates of early childbearing than rates of socioeconomic disadvantage per se.

Suggested Citation

Kearney, Melissa S. and Levine, Phillip B., Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing (September 2007). NBER Working Paper No. w13436. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1016347

Melissa S. Kearney (Contact Author)

University of Maryland - Department of Economics ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Phillip B. Levine

Wellesley College ( email )

106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States
781-283-2162 (Phone)
781-283-2177 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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