Publisher/Institution: Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit
Abstract: We estimate the effect of a teenage birth on the educational attainment of young mothers in Cape Town, South Africa. Longitudinal and retrospective data on youth from the CAPS dataset are used. We control for a number of early life and pre-fertility characteristics. We also reweight our data using a propensity score matching process to generate a more appropriate counterfactual group. Accounting for respondent characteristics reduces estimates of the effect of a teen birth on dropping out of school, successfully completing secondary school, and years of schooling attained. Our best estimates of the effect of a teen birth on high school graduation by ages 20 and 22 are -5.9 and -2.7 percentage points respectively. The former is significant at the 5% level, while the latter is not statistically significant. We find only limited support for the hypothesis that there is heterogeneity in the effect of a teen birth, depending on the actual age of the first birth. By age 22, none of the estimates for high school graduation or years of schooling are statistically significant. Despite this, we do find evidence that a teen birth does correlate with reduced educational expectations. The proportion of teen mothers who report an expected final educational attainment of high school graduation or greater is about 15 percentage points lower than the matched set of non-teen mothers, but this is not manifest amongst the girls whom we know will subsequently become teen mothers at some point after these expectations are measured.