, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 643–668 | Cite as

Early Childbearing, School Attainment, and Cognitive Skills: Evidence From Madagascar

  • Catalina Herrera AlmanzaEmail author
  • David E. Sahn


Female secondary school attendance has recently increased in sub-Saharan Africa, and so has the risk of becoming pregnant while attending school. We analyze the impact of teenage pregnancy on young women’s human capital using longitudinal data in Madagascar that capture the transition from adolescence to adulthood for a cohort aged 21–24 in 2012, first interviewed in 2004. We find that early childbearing increases the likelihood of dropping out of school and decreases the chances of completing secondary school. This pregnancy-related school dropout also has a detrimental impact on standardized test scores in math and French. We instrument early pregnancy with the young woman’s community-level access and her exposure to condoms since age 15 after controlling for pre-fertility socioeconomic conditions. Our results are robust to different specifications that address potential endogeneity of program placement and instrument validity.


Early childbearing Female education Cognitive skills Family planning Madagascar 



The authors thank Günther Fink, George Jakubson, Ravi Kanbur, David Lam, Paul Schultz, anonymous reviewers and seminar participants at the 2013 Cornell Economics Seminar, the 2013 Population Association of America Conference, the 2013 Northeast Universities Development Consortium Conference-NEUDC, the 2014 Population and Reproductive Health Conference, and the 2015 Harvard Population Center seminar series for helpful comments and discussions. This study was funded by the IZA/DFID GLM | LIC Program under Grant Agreement GA-C1-RA4-067. This document is an output from a project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) for the benefit of developing countries. The views expressed are not necessarily those of DFID or IZA. Herrera is very grateful for the support from the Hewlett Foundation/(IIE) Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Any errors are solely the responsibility of the authors.

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and International Affairs ProgramNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Economics and Division of Nutritional SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)BonnGermany

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