Minimum Wages and Teenage Childbearing: New Estimates Using a Dynamic Difference-in-Differences Approach
The minimum wage is increasingly viewed as an important tool for improving public health outcomes, including reducing childbearing among teenagers. Taken at face value, recently reported estimates suggest that raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour could reduce the number of teenage births by 35,000 per year. Using an event study framework that accounts for dynamic and heterogeneous treatment effects, we find little evidence that minimum wages are causally related to teenage childbearing. Moreover, the estimated effects of minimum wages on teenage sexual behaviors, including contraception use, abstinence, and number of partners are consistently small and statistically insignificant.
Dr. Sabia acknowledges support from the Center for Health Economics and Policy Studies (CHEPS), which has received grant funding from the Troesh Family Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation. We are grateful to Alicia Marquez and Samuel Safford for outstanding research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.