The Human Capital Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Can We Really Know What They Are?
37 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2008
Date Written: November 1, 2007
Whether giving birth as a teenager has negative economic consequences for the mother is a question that has been the topic of a substantial body of research, yet the answer remains controversial. In this paper, we build upon existing literature, especially the literature that uses the experience of teenagers who had a miscarriage as the appropriate comparison group. We show that miscarriages are not random events, but rather are likely correlated with (unobserved) community-level factors, casting some doubt on previous findings. Including community-level fixed effects in our specifications led to important changes in our estimates. By making use of information on the timing of miscarriages as well as birth control choices preceding the teenage pregnancies we construct more relevant control groups for teenage mothers. We find evidence that teenage childbearing likely reduces the probability of receiving a high school diploma by 5 to 10 percentage points, reduces annual income by $1,000 to $2,400, and may increase the probability of receiving cash assistance and decrease years of schooling.
Keywords: Teenage Childbearing, Human Capital
JEL Classification: J13, J24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation