The Role of Mother’s Age at Birth for Children's Education in the Context of Below-Replacement Fertility in Brazil

Leticia J. Marteleto, University of Texas at Austin
Molly Dondero, University of Texas at Austin

Over the last decades, Brazil has witnessed dramatic changes in its fertility patterns. The recent decline to below-replacement fertility was accompanied by increases in the proportion of children born to adolescent mothers and a rejuvenation of the fertility schedule. Yet, we know remarkably little about the well-being of children born to adolescent mothers. This study uses the 2006 Pesquisa Nacional de Demografia e Saúde to examine the relationship between maternal age at birth and several children outcomes. We use miscarriage before first birth as an instrumental variable to assess whether selection into early motherhood accounts for the negative associations. While we find that adolescent childbearing is positively associated with several disadvantages at childhood and adolescence, the effect is attenuated or disappears once selectivity is accounted for. Our findings suggest that children of adolescent mothers are disadvantaged only through young mothers’ behaviors such as inadequate pre-natal care and breastfeeding.

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Presented in Session 81: Fertility Timing: Europe and South America