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Early motherhood and later partnerships


The paper uses information on British women born in 1970, collected at birth and ages 5, 10 and 30, and pregnancy histories at age 30, including miscarriages, to estimate average causal effects of having a first birth before age 20 on `partnership outcomes' at age 30 for women who had such a birth. Following the methods developed by Hotz et al, the effects can be bounded under relatively weak conditions, and a consistent instrumental variable estimator exists under stronger conditions. The results suggest that a teen-birth causes a woman to fare worse in the marriage market, greatly increasing her chances of partnering with poorly educated and unemployment-prone men.

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Correspondence to John Ermisch.

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This research was part of a wider programme of work funded by the Department of Health. We are grateful to two referees for very helpful comments on a previous draft of this paper.

Responsible editor: Deborah Cobb-Clark.

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Ermisch, J., Pevalin, D.J. Early motherhood and later partnerships. J Popul Econ 18, 469–489 (2005).

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JEL classification

  • I21
  • J13
  • J22
  • J24


  • Teenage motherhood
  • marriage markets
  • early childbearing
  • marital sorting