The Human Capital Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Can We Really Know What They Are?
Jason M. Fletcher
University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health
University of Wisconsin-Madison; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); RSSS-economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
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.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 37
Keywords: Teenage Childbearing, Human Capital
JEL Classification: J13, J24
Date posted: January 16, 2008