Date of Award

8-25-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Erdal Tekin - Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Sally Wallace

Third Advisor

Dr. Shiferaw Gurmu

Fourth Advisor

Dr. E. Kathleen Adams

Abstract

This dissertation explores the effect of teen childbearing on the adult mother’s employment, earnings and welfare participation. This study contributes to the literature on the consequence of teen childbearing by relying on original datasets and using an array of samples and econometric methods to test the robustness of the results. We use state administrative data from several sources including the Georgia subset of the Vital Statistics for the years 1994-2002, the Wage and Employer files for the years 1990-2003, and the Welfare dataset for the years 1990-2005. We select three samples. The first sample is constructed with sisters raised in families on welfare, where one sister is a teen mother and the other a non-teen mother. The second sample is composed of young mothers who were pregnant as teens and whose first pregnancy ended with either a birth (teen mothers) or a fetal death (non-teen mothers). A third sample is selected by the propensity score matching technique on a subset of the second sample. For the labor market outcomes, this study suggests that teen childbearing has a negative effect on the employment and earnings of Blacks in the miscarriage sample and in the propensity score sample. However, White teen mothers are more likely to be employed and to earn more than the White non-teen mothers in the miscarriage sample. In contrast, the sisters’ sample does not show any statistical significant effect of teen childbearing on employment or earnings. These mixed results are probably due to the different distribution of the mothers’ race and socioeconomic status before pregnancy. Concerning welfare receipt, very few mothers in the sisters’ sample and no mothers in the propensity score sample receive welfare during the years of study. For the miscarriage sample, White teen mothers are less likely than the White non-teen mothers to receive welfare at any time. Blacks become less likely to receive welfare as their child’s age increases. The effect on Blacks might be due to the welfare reform that tightened the rules for welfare eligibility. This research suggests that as far as employment and earnings are concerned, policy dollars aimed at preventing teenage childbearing would be more efficiently used for the Blacks and low-income populations. However, the small magnitude of the teen coefficients in the employment and earnings analyses suggests that teen pregnancy prevention only will not have a very dramatic influence on the adult mothers’ standards of living. Therefore, policy dollars should also be directed to issues correlated with teen childbearing such as poverty or low education attainment. As for welfare participation, teen mothers are no more likely to rely on public assistance than non-teen mothers so their welfare dependence should not be a concern.

Included in

Economics Commons

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