An Economic Model of Teenage Pregnancy Decision-Making

Published in: Demography, v. 23, no. 1, Feb. 1986, p. 67-77

by Arleen Leibowitz, Marvin Eisen, Winston Chow

In this paper, the authors model unmarried teenagers' decisions about their pregnancy outcome by considering that the teenager contrasts her expected utility (1) as a married mother, (2) as an unmarried mother, or (3) after abortion. They use cross-sectional data on 297 California teenagers aged 13-19 who were pregnant for the first time between 1972 and 1974. Both Anglo and Mexican-American girls are included. They find that pregnant girls who are eligible for or are receiving public assistance are more likely to give birth and remain unmarried. Teenagers with greater time values are more likely to choose abortion, and Mexican-American girls are more likely to carry their pregnancies to term.

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