The effects of teenage childbearing on long-term health in the US: a twin-fixed-effects approach
This paper explores the effect of teenage childbearing on long-term health outcomes and behaviors of mothers using the Midlife Development in the US dataset. Within-family estimations, using samples of siblings, and twin pairs, are employed to overcome the bias generated by unobserved family background and genetic traits. The results suggest no significant effects on health outcomes, and modest effects on health behaviors, including exercise and preventive care. However, accounting for life-cycle effects demonstrates that teenage childbearing has significant effects on both health outcomes and behaviors early in life, but very few significant effects later in life. Moreover, teenage childbearing has a particularly acute effect among minorities. Finally, this paper provides evidence that the effects operate through reduced income and labor force participation, and matching with a lower “quality” spouse.
KeywordsTeenage childbearing Health Health behaviors Siblings Twins
JEL ClassificationI12 J13
The author would like to thank Melissa S. Kearney, Laura M. Argys, Jere Behrman, Kenneth L. Leonard, Vikesh Amin, Dana C. Andersen, and participants at the 2014 PAA conference for many valuable comments. This paper has been significantly improved from the insightful comments of two anonymous referees.
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