The Effects of Teenage Childbearing on Health in the U.S.: A Twin-Fixed-Effect Approach
Pinar Mine Gunes, University of Maryland
This paper explores the causal effect of teenage childbearing on health outcomes and behaviors of mothers by using a nationally representative sample of twins from the Midlife Development in the United States dataset. I employ within-family estimations (fixed-effects approaches) using samples of siblings, twin pairs, and identical twin pairs, in order to overcome the bias generated by unobserved family background and genetic traits. The results suggest that teenage childbearing adversely affects exercise and preventive care behaviors; however, it does not affect the health of mothers. Exploring heterogeneous effects suggests that younger-generation teenage mothers engage in less vigorous exercise and are less likely to use preventive care, and the adverse effect on preventive care depends on parental education. Further, I find that the effects of teenage childbearing may operate through reduced education and the quality of the spouse.