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Early Childbearing, Human Capital Attainment, and Mortality Risk: Evidence From a Longitudinal Demographic Surveillance Area in Rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • January 2015
  • Journal Article
Ardington, Cally, Menendez, Alicia & Mutevedzi, Tinofa

Publication Title: Economic Development and Cultural Change

Pages: 281-317

Abstract: Using a rich longitudinal dataset, we examine the relationship between teen fertility and both subsequent educational outcomes and HIV related mortality risk in rural South Africa. Human capital deficits among teen mothers are large and significant, with earlier births associated with greater deficits. In contrast to many other studies from developed countries, we find no clear evidence of selectivity into teen childbearing in either schooling trajectories or pre-fertility household characteristics. Enrollment rates among teen mothers only begin to drop in the period immediately preceding the birth and future teen mothers are not behind in their schooling relative to other girls. Older teen mothers and those further ahead in school for their age pre-birth are more likely to continue schooling after the birth. In addition to adolescents’ higher biological vulnerability to HIV infection, pregnancy also appears to increase the risk of contracting HIV. Following women over an extended period, we document a higher HIV related mortality risk for teen mothers that cannot be explained by household characteristics in early adulthood. Controlling for age at sexual debut, we find that teen mothers report lower condom use and older partners than other sexually active adolescents.


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