Gender and Education

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 3:15 PM – 5:15 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Acapulco
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Karen Conway, University of New Hampshire

What is the Added Value of Preschool? Long-Term Impacts and Interactions with a Health Intervention

Maya Rossin-Slater
University of California-Santa Barbara
Miriam Wust
Danish National Centre for Social Research


We study the impact of targeted high quality preschool over the life cycle and across generations, and examine its interaction with a health intervention during infancy. Using administrative data from Denmark together with variation in the timing of program implementation between 1933 and 1960, we find lasting benefits of access to preschool at age 3 on outcomes through age 65---educational attainment increases, income rises (for men), and the probability of survival increases (for women). Further, the benefits persist to the next generation, who experience higher educational attainment by age 25. However, exposure to a nurse home visiting program in infancy reduces the added value of preschool. The positive effect of preschool is lowered by 85 percent for years of schooling (of the first generation) and by 86 percent for adult income among men. JEL Codes: I14, I18, I31.

Teenage Motherhood and Sibling Academic Outcomes: Family Trajectory or Spillover Effects

Jennifer Heissel
Northwestern University


We explore whether teenage pregnancy is a cause or symptom of poor outcomes. Using novel longitudinal data, we find that it is not the child’s birth that leads to a drop in academic performance. Instead, teen mothers and their siblings display a consistent downward trend in performance well before the birth. It is not teen pregnancy that affects families; instead, the sort of families who have teen pregnancies fundamentally differ from those that do not. Data come from an anonymous county’s school district administrative files. This unique data allows us to identify when students become teen mothers and connect the mothers to their siblings’ third through tenth grade math/reading scores. A major problem with research on teen pregnancy is that it often compares families with a teen mother to families without a teen mother. Such research also often lacks pre-trend data. If research does not account for pre-existing trends, it can falsely create the appearance of a causal effect. Even with pre- and post-tests, poorly specified models can create the appearance that scores drop post-birth. Using our longitudinal data, we examine outcomes in multiple years before birth in homes where a sister will eventually have a child. If it’s the appearance of the child, and not general family conflict, that causes drops in performance, test scores should only decrease in the year the child appears. Instead, we find that the siblings of teen mothers appear to have been on a downward trajectory multiple years before the pregnancy began. The finding is robust to a variety of specifications and occurs for teen mothers’ brothers and sisters. The same pattern occurs in demographic subgroups and in the teen mothers themselves. We show how previous papers with less comprehensive data could have attributed a causal effect to these patterns. JEL: I12, I21.

Education and Labor Market Consequences of Teenage Childbearing: Heterogeneous Effects Across Race and Socioeconomic Status

Devon Gorry
Utah State University


This research uses the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health to examine the impact of teen childbearing on educational and labor market outcomes. The methodology follows that of previous work that utilizes miscarriages as a natural experiment to put bounds on the causal effect of teen childbearing, but extends the results by analyzing heterogeneity across socioeconomic status and race. Preliminary findings show substantial heterogeneity in the impact of teen childbearing on outcomes. In particular, teen childbearing leads to less educational attainment, lower income, and greater use of welfare for individuals who come from areas with better socioeconomic conditions. On the other hand, teen childbearing does not have significant negative effects for individuals who come from areas with worse socioeconomic conditions. Across race, teen childbearing leads to lower educational attainment for white women, but a greater likelihood of obtaining a high school diploma for Hispanic women and a greater likelihood of obtaining a GED for black women. The labor market consequences of teen childbearing vary across waves for different racial groups, but tend to be worse for white women relative to black and Hispanic women. These results suggest that teen childbearing does not drive poor educational and labor market outcomes for the groups who have the highest rates of teen childbearing. In fact, it may encourage some young women to get more education and achieve better labor market outcomes. JEL Codes: J13, I24, J10.

Graduated Driver Licensing and Teen Fertility

Monica Deza
University of Texas-Dallas


This paper evaluates the effect of implementing nighttime driving curfews and passenger restrictions mandated by the graduated driver licensing (GDL) on teen fertility. Both components of GDL potentially restrict the freedom and mobility of minor drivers by requiring adult supervision. Using birth data from the National Vital Statistics NVSS and a triple differences estimation, I find that the implementation of GDL decreased fertility by 2% among mothers between the ages of 16 and 18 relative to women who were not affected by GDL at the time of conception and this effect is driven by the states with longer duration of the nighttime driving restrictions. I present evidence that this decrease in fertility is driven by a decrease in pregnancies and not by an increase in abortions. JEL Codes: J1, J13, J18, R00.
Melanie Guldi
University of Central Florida
Melissa Kearney
University of Maryland
Jennifer Trudeau
Sacred Heart University
Laura Argys
University of Colorado
JEL Classifications
  • I0 - General
  • J0 - General