Grandparents, Moms, or Dads? Why Children of Teen Mothers Do Worse in Life

69 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2020

See all articles by Anna Aizer

Anna Aizer

Brown University

Paul J. Devereux

University College Dublin - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Kjell G. Salvanes

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

Women who give birth as teens have worse subsequent educational and labor market outcomes than women who have first births at older ages. However, previous research has attributed much of these effects to selection rather than a causal effect of teen childbearing. Despite this, there are still reasons to believe that children of teen mothers may do worse as their mothers may be less mature, have fewer financial resources when the child is young, and may partner with fathers of lower quality. Using Norwegian register data, we compare outcomes of children of sisters who have first births at different ages. Our evidence suggests that the causal effect of being a child of a teen mother is much smaller than that implied by the cross-sectional differences but that there are probably still significant long-term, adverse consequences, especially for children born to the youngest teen mothers. Unlike previous research, we have information on fathers and find that negative selection of fathers of children born to teen mothers plays an important role in producing inferior child outcomes. These effects are particularly large for mothers from higher socio- economic groups. Our data also enable us to examine the effect of age at first birth across a range of maternal ages. Importantly, while we find that child outcomes are worst for those born to teen mothers, outcomes improve with mothers' age at first birth until mothers are in their mid-20s and then flatten out.

Keywords: teen childbearing, child outcomes, human capital

JEL Classification: J12, J13, I31, I32

Suggested Citation

Aizer, Anna and Devereux, Paul J. and Salvanes, Kjell G., Grandparents, Moms, or Dads? Why Children of Teen Mothers Do Worse in Life. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13781, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3708643 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3708643

Anna Aizer (Contact Author)

Brown University

Paul J. Devereux

University College Dublin - Department of Economics ( email )

Belfield
Dublin 4, 4
Ireland

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Kjell G. Salvanes

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) - Department of Economics ( email )

Helleveien 30
N-5035 Bergen
Norway
+47 5 595 9315 (Phone)
+47 5 595 9543 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

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