• adolescents;
  • adolescent parents;
  • child development;
  • low-income families;
  • National Longitudinal Survey of Youth;
  • school achievement

Children born to early child bearers are more likely than other children to display problem behaviors or poor academic performance, but it is unclear whether early childbearing plays a causal role in these outcomes. Using multiple techniques to control for background factors, we analyze 2,908 young children and 1,736 adolescents and young adults in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) and the NLSY79 Children and Young Adults (CNLSY79) data sets to examine whether early childbearing causes children’s outcomes. We find evidence that teen childbearing plays no causal role in children’s test scores and in some behavioral outcomes of adolescents. For other behavioral outcomes, we find that different methodologies produce differing results. We thus suggest caution in drawing conclusions about early parenthood’s overarching effect.