How Young Mothers Manage: Is There Evidence for Heterogeneity after an Early Birth?

Christina Diaz, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jeremy E. Fiel, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The socioeconomic consequences of teenage childbearing have received much attention over the past 40 years. While some argue that teenage fertility substantially hinders women’s educational attainment and earnings, others claim that the socioeconomic prospects of these women are often limited regardless of early motherhood. Recent methodological advances have resulted in more plausible estimates of the effect of teenage childbearing, but these studies focus on average treatment effects and overlook systematic variation. We ask if there is evidence for heterogeneity in the effects of teen birth on educational attainment and income, and whether the sources of this heterogeneity are tied to the resources and attributes of young mothers. We use propensity score-based methods to assess effect heterogeneity, but go further to test theoretically relevant explanations of such heterogeneity. Our findings help identify the types of young women who are likely to struggle as mothers and help us learn how others succeed.

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Fertility Intentions and Behavior