Outcomes for Teenage Mothers in the First Years after Birth

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 06/14

Date: 2014


Guyonne Kalb
Trinh Le
Felix Leung


This study uses data from the LSAC and HILDA surveys to examine educational, labour market, health and partnership outcomes of young women who became a mother during their teenage years and compares them with outcomes of women who became a mother in their twenties and those who do not have children yet. We find that while teenage motherhood is strongly associated with poorer outcomes in the first years after birth, a large part of the observed associations is due to selection bias. However, although not all of the observed associations can be attributed to the causal impact of teenage motherhood, the indication is that some of the associations are causal, of nontrivial size, and significant. Propensity score matching analysis suggests that relative to childless women with similar characteristics, teenage mothers are 39 percentage points less likely to complete Year 12, 54 percentage points less likely to be employed and 34 percentage points more likely to be a smoker. Relative to childless women, teenage mothers have $100 less in weekly personal income and are 8 percentage points less likely to be in good health or better than good health.