Teen mothers and the success of their kids

Grandparents, Moms, or Dads? Why Children of Teen Mothers Do Worse in Life
by Anna Aizer, Paul J. Devereux, Kjell G. Salvanes – #25165 (CH ED HE LS)

Abstract:

Women who give birth as teens have worse subsequent educational and labor market outcomes than women who have first births at older ages. However, previous research has attributed much of these effects to selection rather than a causal effect of teen childbearing. Despite this, there are still reasons to believe that children of teen mothers may do worse as their mothers may be less mature, have fewer financial resources when the child is young, and may partner with fathers of lower quality. Using Norwegian register data, we compare outcomes of children of sisters who have first births at different ages. Our evidence suggests that the causal effect of being a child of a teen mother is much smaller than that implied by the cross-sectional differences but that there are still significant long-term, adverse consequences, especially for children born to the youngest teen mothers. Unlike previous research, we have information on fathers and find that negative selection of fathers of children born to teen mothers plays an important role in producing inferior child outcomes. These effects are particularly large for mothers from higher socio-economic groups.

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3 Responses to Teen mothers and the success of their kids

  1. conrad says:

    “but that there are still significant long-term, adverse consequences, especially for children born to the youngest teen mothers.”

    I always wonder why teenage mothers seem to get so much publicity (almost always negative) and why there is such a social stigma to it. In this case, if they are using the standard and rather awful definition of teenage mother (13-19), which is based on linguistic rather than meaningful categories, then the number of children they are talking about is vanishingly small (I would read the paper but my work email seems to be killing SSRN links).

    To get some perspective on this, in Aus, in 2015, there were 63 births from mothers less than 15 and 221 that were 15. This is far less than, for example, the increase in the number of really serious disorders that occur with older parents (both male and female).

  2. paul frijters says:

    interesting, but this research has a sinister undertone. The essential implication of taking child socio-economic success as the yardstick to judge teenage pregnancy by is that the wrong teenagers have kids and in particular that girls from high socio-economic groups should not breed with male low-lives when they are young because the resulting kids will be less successful. If those girls wait, they apparently breed with ‘better’ males. It is the old Malthusian / social darwinism argument.

    Socio-economic success is a relative concept (zero-sum) and not an obvious yardstick to judge a population by at all. Length of life, happiness, and even life itself are more natural yardsticks.

    Of course the authors would probably deny this interpretation, but the moralising is in their language: “negative selection”, “worse in life”, “fathers of lower quality”. This paper comes from a sinister place.

    A very different question to ask is, conditional on the breeding pair, whether its better for them and their kids to have their kids earlier in life or later. I suspect the answer is likely to be ‘earlier’.

  3. John Walker says:

    Paul
    Yes strange conflicted language. On one hand it seems to be saying ‘confoundding’ is to blame:
    “the causal effect of being a child of a teen mother is much smaller than that implied by the cross-sectional differences”

    Yet it then they uses terms like ” lower quality “(blood stock??)
    BTW how in the, capital F sense, do you define lower quality?
    Sounds like something from BlackAdder

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