, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 863–890 | Cite as

Advanced School Progression Relative to Age and Early Family Formation in Mexico

  • Mónica L. CaudilloEmail author


Research has documented a negative association between women’s educational attainment and early sexual intercourse, union formation, and pregnancy. However, the implications that school progression relative to age may have for the timing and order of such transitions are poorly understood. In this article, I argue that educational attainment has different implications depending on a student’s progression through school grades relative to her age. Using month of birth and age-at-school-entry policies to estimate the effect of advanced school progression by age, I show that it accelerates the occurrence of family formation and sexual onset among teenage women in Mexico. Focusing on girls aged 15–17 interviewed by a national survey, I find that those who progress through school ahead of their birth cohort have a higher probability of having had sex, been pregnant, and cohabited by the time of interview. I argue that this pattern of behaviors is explained by experiences that lead them to accelerate their transition to adulthood compared with same-age students with fewer completed school grades, such as exposure to relatively older peers in school and completing academic milestones earlier in life. Among girls who got pregnant, those with an advanced school progression by age are more likely to engage in drug use, alcohol consumption, and smoking before conception; more likely to have pregnancy-related health complications; and less likely to attend prenatal care visits. Thus, an advanced school progression by age has substantial implications for the health and well-being of young women, with potential intergenerational consequences.


Adolescents Transitions to adulthood Sociology of education Peer effects 



I am deeply grateful to Florencia Torche, Paula England, Lawrence Wu, Julia Behrman, José Ortiz, Andrés Villarreal, Michael Rendall, three anonymous reviewers, and the members of the New York University Inequality Workshop for their valuable comments on previous drafts. All remaining errors are my own. I gratefully acknowledge support from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Center for Child Health and Human Development Grant P2C-HD041041, Maryland Population Research Center.

Supplementary material

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© Population Association of America 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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