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Does teenage childbearing reduce investment in human capital?

Abstract

This paper estimates the causal effect of teenage childbearing on educational attainment using two cohorts of Australian twins and their relatives. Our main finding is that the negative effect of teenage childbearing on educational attainment appears to be small. We find no difference in educational attainment between teen mothers and their identical twin sisters. Data on the relatives of the twins enable us to compare a teen mother with both her twin sister and her other sibling sisters. When twin sisters are used as a control group instead of sibling sisters, the estimated difference in educational attainment is much smaller.

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Notes

  1. The highest rates for the developed countries are found in the US (52 per 1,000), UK (31), New Zealand (30), Canada (20) and Australia (18) (Unicef 2001, data for 1998).

  2. In column (3), we do not control for age because of missing values. Including age, which lowers the sample size, does not change the results.

  3. In case of missing values, we included the value of the other twin. In case both values were missing, we included the mean of the sample of identical twins. In total, we imputed values for 45 women. The point estimate for the pooled sample is slightly higher without the imputation of the missing values (0.072).

  4. We did not repeat this analysis for the younger cohort because in 1996, educational attainment has been measured with a different scale.

  5. Another approach would be to use an instrument specific to an individual twin. We attempted to use the difference in age at menarche within groups of sisters as an instrument for the difference in teenage childbearing within groups of sisters. However, this yields a weak first-stage relationship (the F-value of the excluded instrument is smaller than 2). In addition, the standard IV-approach for individuals using age at menarche as an instrument yields no evidence for a negative effect of teenage childbearing on educational attainment. All estimates are statistically insignificant.

  6. See Webbink et al. (2008b) for a detailed description of the conduct disorder score and the underlying items.

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Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge comments from Helena Holmlund, Pierre Koning, Suncica Vujic, Erik Plug, and anonymous referees. Martin and Visscher were supported by grants from NIAAA (USA) and NHMRC (Australia).

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Correspondence to Dinand Webbink.

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Responsible editor: Junsen Zhang

Appendix

Appendix

Table 10 Estimates of the effect of teenage childbearing on educational attainment for the sample of mothers only

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Webbink, D., Martin, N.G. & Visscher, P.M. Does teenage childbearing reduce investment in human capital?. J Popul Econ 24, 701–730 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-009-0270-7

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Keywords

  • Teenage childbearing
  • Education attainment
  • Twins

Jel Classification

  • I18