The Human Capital Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Can We Really Know What They Are?

37 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2008  

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health

Barbara Wolfe

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)

Date Written: November 1, 2007

Abstract

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

Fletcher, Jason M. and Wolfe, Barbara, The Human Capital Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Can We Really Know What They Are? (November 1, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1083527 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1083527

Jason M. Fletcher (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

Barbara L. Wolfe

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of Wisconsin-Madison ( email )

Social Science Bldg
Madison, WI 53706
United States
6082626358 (Phone)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

RSSS-economics ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

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