The Effect on Teenage Childbearing on Social Capital Development: New Evidence on Civic Engagement

Publisher: Review of Economics of the Household, vol. 16, issue 3
Sep 01, 2018
Joseph J. Sabia, Joseph P. Price, H. Elizabeth Peters, and Reginald Covington
Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97), we examine the relationship between teenage childbearing and four measures of adult civic engagement: charitable giving, volunteerism, political awareness, and voting. After accounting for selection on observables via propensity score matching and selection on unobservables via family fixed effects and instrumental variables approaches, we find that teen motherhood is negatively related to adult civic engagement. Descriptive evidence suggests that teen birth-induced reductions in educational attainment and the time-intensive nature of childcare are important mechanisms. Finally, we find that while the adverse civic engagement effects of teen parenthood may extend to teen fathers, the effects are much smaller in magnitude.