Maternal Union Status and Youth Educational Attainment: Does Age at Birth Matter?

Sharon Sassler, Cornell University
Fenaba Addo, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Kristi Williams, Ohio State University

Recent demographic trends indicate declines in teen childbirth, increases in non-marital childbearing, and shifts to more births to women in their twenties. Using data from the linked Children and Young Adult sample (N=2,865) of the NLSY79, this study examines the potential benefits to the offspring of women who delay childbirth. We investigate whether the children born to mothers who delay childbirth into their early and late twenties have more positive educational outcomes compared with children born to teen mothers. Results suggest youth born to teen and young adult mothers are less likely to graduate from high school than youth born to older mothers. And, this association remains robust to mother’s marital status at birth. Our results highlight the diverging destinies faced by youth born to teen mothers and older mothers, but suggest that those born to young adult women (in their early 20s) may also face educational disadvantage.

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Presented in Session 229: Nonmarital and Diverse Families