Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 937–968 | Cite as

The long-term effects of mistimed pregnancy on children’s education and employment

  • Cuong Viet Nguyen
Original Paper


In this study, we examine the long-term effects of mistimed pregnancy on one’s future educational attainment and employment. We use the time gap between a child’s birth year and their mothers’ marriage year as a proxy indicator of mistimed pregnancy. We find that a large proportion of children were born from 1 to 3 years after their mothers’ marriage, and these children have remarkably higher educational attainment and are more likely to be engaged in a high-skilled profession than children born just before their mothers’ marriage. This negative effect is consistently found in 10 countries studied in this paper.


Unintended childbearing Unintended pregnancy Child education Employment Cross-countries 

JEL classification

J13 J12 I25 



I would like to express my great thanks to Anna Aizer (Brown University), Ilyana Kuziemko (Princeton University), and Pascaline Dupas (Stanford University) for their useful comments and suggestions. I would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers from Journal of Population Economics for their very detailed and useful comments on this paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

This paper “The long-term effects of mistimed pregnancy on children’s education and employment” uses the secondary data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series project, which is conducted by the Minnesota Population Center, National Statistical Offices. There are no ethic problems related to this study.

Conflict of interest

I declare that there are no financial or business interests that relate to the paper “The long-term effects of mistimed pregnancy on children’s education and employment.” There are no other conflicts or ethnic issues related to the study.


  1. Adair L (1999) Filipino children exhibit catch-up growth from age 2 to 12 years. J Nutr 129:1140–1148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aizer, A., and Cunha, F. (2012) The production of human capital: endowments, investments and fertility. NBER Working Papers 18429, National Bureau of Economic ResearchGoogle Scholar
  3. Aizer A, Currie J (2014) The intergenerational transmission of inequality: maternal disadvantage and health at birth. Science 344(6186):856–861CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aizer A, Stroud L, Buka S (2015) Maternal stress and child outcomes: evidence from siblings. J Hum Resour 51:523–555. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Aizer A, Eli S, Ferrie J, Lleras-Muney A (2016) The long-run impact of cash transfers to poor families. Am Econ Rev 106(4):935–971CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Almond D (2006) Is the 1918 influenza pandemic over? Long-term effects of in utero influenza exposure in the post-1940 U.S. population. J Polit Econ 114:672–712CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Almond D, Mazumder B (2011) Health capital and the prenatal environment: the effect of Ramadan observance during pregnancy. Am Econ J: Appl Econ 3(4):56–85Google Scholar
  8. Angrist DJ (2001) Estimation of limited dependent variable models with dummy endogenous regressors: simple strategies for empirical practice. J Bus Econ Stat:29(1), 1–29(1),28Google Scholar
  9. Angrist J, Krueger A (1991) Does compulsory school attendance affect schooling and earnings? Q J Econ 106:979–1014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Angrist, J. D. and J. S. Pischke (2008) Mostly harmless econometrics: an empiricist’s companion. Princeton University PressGoogle Scholar
  11. Axinn WG, Barber JS, Thornton A (1998) The long-term impact of parents' childbearing decisions on children's self-esteem. Demography 35(4):435–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bachrach C, Newcomer S (1999) Intended pregnancies and unintended pregnancies: distinct categories or opposite ends of a continuum. Fam Plan Perspect 31(5):251–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Barber JS, Axinn WG, Thornton A (1999) Unwanted childbearing, health, and mother–child relationships. J Health Soc Behav 40(3):231–257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Barro RJ, Lee JW (2013) A new data set of educational attainment in the world, 1950–2010. J Dev Econ 104:184–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Becker GS (1965) A theory of the allocation of time. Econ J 75:493–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Becker G, Landes E, Michael R (1977) An economic analysis of marital instability. J Polit Econ 85:1141–1187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Black S, Devereux PJ, Salvanes KG (2005) The more the merrier? The effect of family size and birth order on children's education. Q J Econ 120(2):669–700Google Scholar
  18. Black SE, Devereux PJ, Salvanes KG (2016) Does grief transfer across generations? Bereavements during pregnancy and child outcomes. Am Econ J: Appl Econ 8(1):193–223Google Scholar
  19. Bongaarts J, Sinding S (2011) Population policy in transition in the developing world. Science 333(6042):574–576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Breining, S.N., Doyle Jr, J.J., Figlio, D.N., Karbownik, K. and Roth, J., (2017) birth order and delinquency: evidence from Denmark and Florida (No. w23038). National Bureau of Economic ResearchGoogle Scholar
  21. Buckles K, Hungerman D (2013) Season of birth and later outcomes: old questions, new answers. Rev Econ Stat 95(3):711–724CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Buckles K, Kolka S (2014) Prenatal investments, breastfeeding, and birth order. Soc Sci Med 118:66–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Campbell GC, Heckman J, Moon SH, Pinto R, Pungello E, Pan Y (2014) Early childhood investments substantially boost adult health. Science 343:1478–1485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Cohen J (2010) Reducing HIV infection and abandonment of babies. Science 329(5988):172CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. David HP (2006) Born unwanted, 35 years later: the Prague study. Reprod Health Matters 14(27):181–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Do T, Phung T (2010) The importance of being wanted. Am Econ J: Appl Econ 2(4):236–253Google Scholar
  27. Donohue JJ, Levitt SD (2001) The impact of legalized abortion on crime. Q J Econ 116(2):379–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Duflo, E., and R. Glennerster, And M. Kremer (2008) using randomization in development economics research: a toolkit. In handbook of development economics, volume 4, ed. T. Paul Schultz and John Strauss, 3895–3962. Amsterdam and Oxford: Elsevier, North-HollandGoogle Scholar
  29. Finer LB, Henshaw SK (2006) Disparities in rates of unintended pregnancy in the United States, 1994 and 2001. Perspect Sex Reprod Health 38(2):90–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Folbre, Nancy (1994) Children as public goods. The American Economic Review 84(2), Papers and Proceedings of the Hundred and Sixth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May, 1994), pp.86–90Google Scholar
  31. Gipson JD, Koenig MA, Hindin MJ (2008) The effects of unintended pregnancy on infant, child, and parental health: a review of the literature. Stud Fam Plan 39(1):18–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gortmaker S, Kagan J, Caspi A, Silva P (1997) Daylength during pregnancy and shyness of children: results from northern and southern hemispheres. Dev Psychobiol 31:107–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Greene W (2004a) The behaviour of the maximum likelihood estimator of limited dependent variable models in the presence of fixed effects. Econ J 7(1):98–119Google Scholar
  34. Greene W (2004b) Fixed effects and bias due to the incidental parameters problem in the Tobit model. Econ Rev 23(2):125–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Heckman, J. (2012) Invest in early childhood development: reduce deficits, strengthen the economy,
  36. Heckman, J., R. Lalonde, and J. Smith (1999) The economics and econometrics of active labor market programs. Handbook of Labor Economics 1999; volume 3, Ashenfelter, A. And D. Card, eds., Elsevier ScienceGoogle Scholar
  37. Hoynes H, Schanzenbach D, Almond D (2016) Long-run impacts of childhood access to the safety net. Am Econ Rev 106(4):903–934CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Imbens GW, Lemieux T (2008) Regression discontinuity designs: a guide to practice. J Econ 142(2):615–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Joyce TJ, Kaestner R, Korenman S (2000) The effect of pregnancy intention on child development. Demography 37(1):83–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. de La Rochebrochard E, Joshi H (2013) Children born after unplanned pregnancies and cognitive development at 3 years: social differentials in the United Kingdom millennium cohort. Am J Epidemiol 178(6):910–920CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lee DS, Lemieux T (2010) Regression discontinuity designs in economics. J Econ Lit, Am Econ Assoc 48(2):281–355Google Scholar
  42. Logan, C. E., Holcombe, J. Manlove, and, S. Ryan, (2007) The consequences of unintended childbearing: a white paper, Child Trends and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Washington, DC 20008Google Scholar
  43. Maluccio JA, Hoddinott JF, Behrman JR, Quisumbing AR, Martorell R, Stein AD (2009) The impact of nutrition during early childhood on education among Guatemalan adults. Econ J 119(537):734–763CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mani S (2012) Is there complete, partial, or no recovery from childhood malnutrition? Empirical evidence from Indonesia. Oxf Bull Econ Stat 74(5):691–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Prentice AM, Ward KA, Goldberg GR, Jarjou LM, Moore SE, Fulford AJ, Prentice A (2013) Critical windows for nutritional interventions against stunting. Am J Clin Nutr 97:911–918CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Rackin HM, Brasher MS (2016) Is baby a blessing? Wantedness, age at first birth, and later-life depression. J Marriage Fam 78(5):1269–1284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Rosenzweig M, Wolpin K (1993) Maternal expectations and ex post rationalizations: the usefulness of survey information on the wantedness of children. J Hum Resour 28(2):205–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Santelli JR, Rochat K, Hatfield-Timajchy BC, Gilbert K, Curtis R, Cabral JS, Hirsch L, Schieve and other Members of the Unintended Pregnancy Working Group (2003) The measurement and meaning of unintended pregnancy. Perspect Sex Reprod Health 35(2):94–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schott, W., Crookston, B. T., Lundeen, E. A., Stein, A. D., Behrman, J. R., and Team YL Da CoCGP (2013) Child growth from ages 1 to 8 years in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam: key distal household and community factors Soc Sci Med 97 278–287Google Scholar
  50. Sedgh G, Singh S, Hussain R (2014) Intended and unintended pregnancies worldwide in 2012 and recent trends. Stud Fam Plan 45(3):301–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Trussell J, Vaughan B, Stanford J (1999) Are all contraceptive failures unintended pregnancies? Evidence from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth. Fam Plan Perspect 31(5):246–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Victora CG, Adair L, Fall C, Hallal PC, Martorell R, Richter L, Sachdev HS, Maternal and Child Undernutrition Study Group (2008) Maternal and child undernutrition: consequences for adult health and human capital. Lancet 371(9609):340–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Weiss Y, Willis R (1985) Children as collective goods and divorce settlements. J Labor Econ 3(3):268–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Economics University and Mekong Development ResearchHanoiVietnam

Personalised recommendations