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IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREGNANT: THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATIONAL AND FERTILITY EXPECTATIONS FOR SUBSEQUENT OUTCOMES

Authors

  • OLGA YAKUSHEVA

    1. Yakusheva: Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Marquette University, PO Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 5320. Phone 414-288-3409, Fax 414-288-5755, E-mail olga.yakusheva@mu.edu
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    • *This study has greatly benefited from insightful comments of many people, including Brian Brush, David Clark, Todd Elder, and Roger Koenker. I am especially grateful to Kevin Hallock and to Darren Lubotsky for extraordinary feedback on an earlier draft. I also wish to thank two anonymous referees for this journal, as well as seminar participants who were in attendance when this article was presented at the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, and Marquette University.


Abstract

This study uses the High School and Beyond data (1980–1992) to examine the importance of educational and fertility expectations in explaining the achievement gap of adolescent mothers for over 5,500 young women from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Using a non-parametric local propensity score regression, the study finds that the economic disadvantage associated with having a child in high school is particularly large in poor socioeconomic environments; however, this disadvantage is a result of preexisting differences in the educational and fertility expectations and is not because of a diminished capacity of the socioeconomic environment to mediate the effect of an unplanned childbirth. The findings suggest that childcare assistance and other policies designed to alleviate the burden of child rearing for young mothers of low means may not produce the desired improvement in their subsequent educational and labor market outcomes. A much earlier policy intervention with a focus on fostering young women's outlook for the future is needed. (JEL J13)

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