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Demography. 1993 Feb;30(1):1-13.

Reevaluating the costs of teenage childbearing.

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Department of Economics, University of Delaware, Newark 19716.


Teenage childbearing in the United States has long been regarded as an important social problem with substantial costs to teen mothers and their children. Recently, however, several researchers have argued that the apparent negative effects of teenage childbearing primarily reflect unmeasured family background rather than the true consequences of a teen birth. To distinguish the effect of teen childbearing from that of family background, we use data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and compare teen mothers with their sisters. We find that accounting for unobserved family background reduces, but does not eliminate, the estimated consequences of early childbearing. Statistically significant and quantitatively important effects of teen parenthood remain for high school graduation, family size, and economic well-being.

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