, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 235-257
Date: 14 Mar 2007

Effects of child support and welfare policies on nonmarital teenage childbearing and motherhood

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Abstract

This paper is an assessment of the impact of child support enforcement and welfare policies on nonmarital teenage childbearing and motherhood. We derive four hypotheses about the effects of policies on nonmarital teenage childbearing and motherhood. We propose that teenage motherhood and school enrollment are joint decisions for teenage girls. Based on individual trajectories during ages 12–19, our analysis uses an event history model for nonmarital teenage childbearing and a dynamic model of motherhood that is jointly determined with school enrollment. We find some evidence that child support policies indirectly reduce teen motherhood by increasing the probability of school enrollment, which, in turn, reduces the probability of teen motherhood. This finding suggests that welfare offices may wish to place greater weight on outreach programs that inform more teenagers of the existence of strong child support enforcement measures. Such programs might reduce nonmarital teen motherhood further and thus reduce the need for welfare support and child support enforcement in the long run.