Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 761–777

The effect of schooling on teenage childbearing: evidence using changes in compulsory education laws

Original Paper


A strong negative correlation is often found between schooling and teenage childbearing. The question at the center of this research is whether this correlation represents a causal relation. This paper uses changes in compulsory schooling laws in Great Britain and Northern Ireland to purge schooling estimates of biases resulting from individual-specific error components correlated with education. The results suggest that increased schooling does appear to reduce the incidence of teenage childbearing. Moreover, the results serve to highlight an important change in the impact of schooling on teenage childbearing following the legislation on contraception in the late 1960s.


Education Childbearing Endogeneity bias 

JEL Classification



  1. Angrist J, Evans W (1996) Schooling and the labor market consequences of the 1970 State Abortion Reforms. Paper presented at the 1997 Population Association of America Meetings, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  2. Angrist J, Imbens G (1994) Identification and estimation of local average treatment effects. Econometrica 62(2):467–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Black S, Devereux P, Salvanes K (2008) Staying in the classroom and out of the maternity ward? The effect of compulsory schooling on teenage births. Econ J 118 (530):1025–1054CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chevalier A, Viitanen T (2003) The long-run labour market consequences of teenage motherhood in Britain. J Popul Econ 16(2):323–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Devereux P, Hart R (2008) Forced to be rich? Returns to compulsory schooling in Britain. IZA discussion paper number 3305Google Scholar
  6. Fletcher J, Wolfe B (2008) Education and labor market consequences of teenage childbearing: evidence using the timing of pregnancy outcomes and community fixed effects. NBER working paper number 13847Google Scholar
  7. Grossman M (1972) On the concept of health capital and the demand for health. J Polit Econ 80(2):223–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Harmon C, Walker I (1995) Estimates of the economic return to schooling for the United Kingdom. Am Econ Rev 85(5):1278–1286Google Scholar
  9. Kiernan K (1997) Becoming a young parent: a longitudinal study of associated factors. Br J Sociol 48:406–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Levine D, Painter G (2003) The schooling costs of teenage out-of-wedlock childbearing: analysis with a within-school propensity-score-matching estimator. Rev Econ Stat 85(4):884–899CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Milligan K, Moretti E, Oreopoulos P (2004) Does education improve citizenship? Evidence from the US and the UK. J Public Econ 88(9):1667–1695CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Oreopoulos P (2006) Estimating average and local average treatment effects of education when compulsory school laws really matter. Am Econ Rev 96(1):152–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Staiger D, Stock J (1997) Instrumental variables regression with weak instruments. Econometrica 65(3):557–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Thistlethwaite D, Campbell D (1960) Regression discontinuity analysis: an alternative to the ex post facto experiment. J Educ Psychol 51(6):309–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsNational University of Ireland, GalwayGalwayIreland

Personalised recommendations