The Costs of Teenage Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing: Analysis with a Within-School Propensity Score Matching Estimator



Teen out-of-wedlock mothers have lower education and earnings than peers who have children later. This study uses the National Educational Longitudinal Survey of 1988 (NELS) to examine the extent to which the apparent effects of out-of-wedlock teen fertility are due to pre- existing disadvantages of the young women and their families. We use a novel method that matches teen mothers to similar young women in their junior high school (that is, prior to pregnancy). We find that out-of-wedlock fertility reduces education substantially, although far less than the cross-sectional comparisons of means suggest. We further find that this effect is largest among those with the lowest probability of having a child out of wedlock.