The effect on teenage childbearing on social capital development: new evidence on civic engagement
Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97), we examine the relationship between teenage childbearing and four measures of adult civic engagement: charitable giving, volunteerism, political awareness, and voting. After accounting for selection on observables via propensity score matching and selection on unobservables via family fixed effects and instrumental variables approaches, we find that teen motherhood is negatively related to adult civic engagement. Descriptive evidence suggests that teen birth-induced reductions in educational attainment and the time-intensive nature of childcare are important mechanisms. Finally, we find that while the adverse civic engagement effects of teen parenthood may extend to teen fathers, the effects are much smaller in magnitude.
KeywordsTeenage childbearing Social capital Civic engagement Charitable giving
The authors thank participants at the 2013 Southern Economic Association and Population Association of America meetings for useful comments and suggestions. We thank Rebecca Sen Choudhury for excellent research assistance. The work was supported, in part, by a grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P01HD045610), the Cornell Institute for the Social Sciences and the Cornell Population Program. Dr. Sabia also acknowledges support from a grant received from the Charles Koch Foundation.
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
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