The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing Before Roe, Wade

Kevin Lang, Russell Weinstein

NBER Working Paper No. 19627
Issued in November 2013
NBER Program(s):   LS

Using data from three cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth, we investigate whether there were adverse consequences of teenage childbearing in the 1950s and 1960s, when most abortions were illegal, and access to the pill was limited. We find negative effects of teen motherhood on the likelihood of obtaining at least 12 years of education and on the number of marriages. We find positive effects of teen motherhood on family income, and, unsurprisingly, on the number of children. These effects are heterogeneous by predicted education. For those with high levels of predicted education, giving birth does not affect educational attainment but increases the probability of being divorced. For those predicted to be on the margin of high school completion, giving birth has strong negative effects on 12th grade completion and age at first marriage, while increasing the probability of never having married. In general, for less advantaged teens, motherhood appears to have increased expected family income but also the risk of not graduating from high school and never marrying. We find surprisingly little evidence that births affected teens conceiving pre- and post-marriage differently.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19627

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Ashcraft and Lang w12485 The Consequences of Teenage Childbearing
Hotz and Pantano w19542 Strategic Parenting, Birth Order and School Performance
Fletcher and Wolfe w13847 Education and Labor Market Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Evidence Using the Timing of Pregnancy Outcomes and Community Fixed Effects
Gelman and Imbens w19614 Why ask Why? Forward Causal Inference and Reverse Causal Questions
King Unclassified Industries and Miscellaneous Income
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us