The Costs and Consequences of Teenage Childbearing for Mothers

Scholarly Edition

We examine the effects of the failure of teen mothers to delay their childbearing on their subsequent behavior and socioeconomic attainment. We estimate these causal effects by exploiting an innovative evaluation design in which women who first become pregnant as teenagers but who experience a miscarriage are used to form a control group with which to compare women who have their first births as teens. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we find that many of the claims concerning the adverse consequences of the failure of teen mothers to delay their childbearing are not supported by the data. Finally, we investigate the extent to which teen childbearing and the failure to postpone births among teen mothers result in higher costs to government. We investigate what women who first became teen mothers in United States in 1993 would be expected to cost government in their greater use of the AFDC, Food Stamp and Medicaid programs and through losses in taxes they would pay.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hotz, VJ; Williams McElroy, S; Sanders, SG