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The impact of young motherhood on Education, Employment and Marriage.

September 2006

Bruce Bradbury, University of New South Wales

Download 'working_paper06-34.pdf'.


The poor socio-economic outcomes of women who have their first child when young are well documented. However, the policy implications of this association depend upon the causal mechanisms that underlie it. Recent studies in the US and UK have used miscarriage as an instrument to identify the direct causal impact of young childbearing – with US research suggesting that early child-bearing may even have a beneficial impact upon mother’s outcomes. This paper examines this issue using a new Australian panel of young women.
No evidence is found for an adverse impact of young childbirth on education, labour market, income or location. Instead these outcomes follow the patterns that might be expected on the basis of selection effects. On the other hand, young motherhood does have an impact on partnering outcomes. Being a young mother reduces the likelihood of being legally married (instead of defacto partnered) when aged in the late 20s. Also, having a child in the early rather than late 20s leads to a greater likelihood of being a lone parent at around age 30.

Educational Attainment, Employment, Unemployment, and the Labor Market, Marriage, Family Formation and Reproductive Issues