Accounting for the Educational Shortfalls of Mothers

by Gus Haggstrom, David E. Kanouse, Peter A. Morrison


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This Note, a reprint of an article that originally appeared in the Journal of Marriage and the Family in February 1986, examines how marriage and parenthood occurring soon after high school affect postsecondary educational pursuits. Young women who form families differ markedly from other teenagers. As high school seniors, the soon-to-be wives and mothers rank low among their classmates on academic aptitude, scholastic performance, and socioeconomic status. Subsequent educational shortfalls are due as much to these preexisting differences as to whatever burdens family formation may impose. Allowing for these differences, the authors find that, while both marriage and parenthood adversely affect postsecondary educational attainments, on average the effects of marriage are more pronounced than those associated with parenthood.

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