Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 883–910 | Cite as

The effects of teenage childbearing on adult soft skills development

  • Jason FletcherEmail author
  • Norma Padrón
Original Paper


Research examining impacts of teenage childbearing on economic and social outcomes have focused on completed schooling and labor force outcomes. In this paper, we examine outcomes that have remained largely unexplored, soft skills and personality. We use Add Health data to construct relevant controls for teenage mothers and explore a set of measures that proxy for what is usually deemed in economics as “non-cognitive” or “soft skill” traits. We find that teenage childbearing increases impulsivity, a trait that has been found to have negative effects on a large set of outcomes and has a negative effect on other personality traits perceived as positive, such as openness to experiences. Our results remain consistent through a set of robustness checks, and we interpret our findings to suggest that adolescence may be a sensitive period for the development of soft skills and that childbearing may interrupt this process.


Soft skills Teenage childbearing Personality Non-cognitive skills 

JEL Classification

J13 J24 



The authors would like to thank the anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.La Follette School of Public Affairs, Department of Sociology, Institute for Research on Poverty, Center for Demography and EcologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Health InnovationNew York Academy of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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