Journal Article

The educational consequences of adolescent childbearing and union formation in Brazil

While Brazil has high rates of adolescent fertility for its below‐replacement total fertility rate, we know little about the causal effects of adolescent childbearing and adolescent union formation for women's education. In this paper, we examine unique data from the 2013 School‐to‐Work Transitions Survey to address the consequences of adolescent childbearing and adolescent union formation on educational outcomes of Brazilian young women. We apply several analytical strategies to address the endogeneity between adolescent childbearing and educational outcomes. Our findings suggest that childbearing during the teenage years is detrimental to the educational attainment of Brazilian women, and that educational disadvantages persist once we take into account mother's selection into adolescent childbearing. The penalty for adolescent mothers ranges from −1.66 to −1.80 fewer years of schooling and from 41 to 35 percent difference in the probabilities of graduating from high school. Additional findings show that marital unions among adolescent mothers have a compounding role at further hindering women's educational progress. Combined, our findings suggest that young mothers, particularly those in a marital union, face additional layers of disadvantages, demonstrating that early family formation is a meaningful stratifier for women in an already highly‐stratified society.

Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.