Re-Examining the Impact of Education on Teenage Motherhood: Evidence from North Carolina

Poh Lin Tan, Duke University

The literature on teenage motherhood suggests that women who have more years of education or better test scores are less likely to give birth during teenage years. However, quasi-experimental studies yield mixed evidence as to whether years of education have a negative causal impact on teenage childbearing, with studies using school entry laws showing no evidence of a causal relationship. This paper uses a similar empirical strategy with a highly detailed dataset which includes not only birth certificate data but also individually linked school administrative records. Consistent with previous research, the evidence suggests that individuals affected by school entry laws have fewer years of education but also better test scores. Using an IV regression strategy to distinguish the impacts of years of education and test scores, I show that both measures of educational success have negative causal impacts on teenage childbearing.

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Presented in Session 146: Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health