Rethinking “Early” Childbearing: Motherhood and Educational Attainment in the United States

Anna Rybinska , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Kathleen Mullan Harris, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In this paper we hypothesize that, in the 21st century America, childbearing in early twenties is the “new teenage childbearing” in the sense that it is similarly disadvantageous to have a baby in early twenties today compared to having a baby as a teenager in the past decades. Given the present context of childbearing in the U.S., with a marked fertility delay, women who have children early in the life course accumulate less human capital prior to child birth relative to women who wait until late twenties or early thirties to become mothers. We examine educational attainment of women from the Add Health cohort estimating multivariate logistic regression and propensity score weighting models. We report similarities in terms of educational attainment for women who become mothers in their teens and early twenties, i.e. until age 22, and pronounced differences between both of these groups and women who delay childbearing past age 25.

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 Presented in Session 1. Fertility, Family Planning, Sexual Behavior, & Reproductive Health 1