Labor Market Conditions and US Teen Birth Rates, 2001–2009
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- Cherry, R. & Wang, C. J Fam Econ Iss (2015) 36: 408. doi:10.1007/s10834-014-9402-7
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Using unemployment rates as the sole labor market explanatory variable, most previous studies have concluded that employment conditions do not systematically influence teen birth rates. By contrast, this study found that birth rates were positively correlated with male employment rates (20–24 years old) and negatively correlated with the real minimum wage. Teen birth rates were also positively correlated with teen gonorrhea infection rates; and for the older teens (18–19 years old), by a measure of illegal drug use. By contrast, alcohol use was negatively correlated with teen birth rates. Finally, teen female employment rates were positively correlated with teen birth rates in weak labor market areas, suggesting that better job opportunities might increase teen birth rates among disadvantaged youth. Given the persistence of young adult birth rates among disadvantaged youth, policy recommendations to eliminate the marriage penalty they face are offered.