Understanding the Fertility-Economy Link for Teenagers

Jeremy Arkes, RAND
Jacob A. Klerman, RAND

During the 1990s, the economy strengthened and teenage fertility and the rate of sexual activity and the lack of contraception decreased sharply. Black female teenagers, who generally experienced greater relative economic gains than white female teenagers, had even greater declines in fertility, the rate of sexual activity, and the lack of contraception. These patterns suggest a potential link between the economy and fertility-related outcomes. This project uses the NLSY-1997 to estimate how changes in the economy affect fertility and its proximate determinants—the rate of sexual activity, contraception use, pregnancies, and abortions—for all teenagers and across race/ethnicity. Relative to previous analyzes, the contributions of our analysis include: (1) using alternative aggregate economic indicators that aren’t particular to teenagers (which could be endogenous); (2) using a more recent cohort of teenagers; and (3) performing simulations to calculate how much the economy contributed to changes in teenage fertility-related outcomes.

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Presented in Session 71: Adolescent Fertility