In High School and Pregnant: The Importance of Educational and Fertility Expectations for Subsequent Outcomes
53 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2010 Last revised: 28 Oct 2010
Date Written: October 14, 2010
This study uses the High School and Beyond data (1980-1992) to examine the importance of educational and fertility expectations in explaining the achievement gap of adolescent mothers for over 5500 young women from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Using a non-parametric local propensity score regression, the study finds that the economic disadvantage associated with bearing a child in high school is particularly large in poor socioeconomic environments; however, this disadvantage is a result of pre-existing differences in the educational and fertility expectations and is not due to a diminished capacity of the socioeconomic environment to mediate the effect of an unplanned childbirth. The findings suggest that childcare assistance and other policies designed to alleviate the burden of childrearing for young mothers of low means may not produce the desired improvement in their subsequent educational and labor market outcomes. A much earlier policy intervention with a focus on fostering young women’s outlook for the future is needed.
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