Moreover, as the divorce rate increased in this country, so did the average age of marriage. That certainly doesn't imply that there's a causative link between the two, but it does imply that no especially strong causative link exists between youth and higher divorce, or a decrease in divorces would have occurred as the average age of marriage rose if there was.
The empiricist would thus be inclined to be skeptical of your claims about youth marriage.
I'm quite aware that there are numerous "studies" that indicate that teenage childbearing impose deleterious economic consequences on teenage parents and their children. The problem is that many studies on teenage pregnancy and childbearing commit several critical methodological errors in that they fail to measure external environmental factors of different women who gave birth in their teenage years, one of the most critical of these being their family background. Researchers Geronimus and Korenman have conducted an analysis of the available data without committing this critical error, and thus find that the the "costs" of teenage childbearing are drastically overstated in The Socioeconomic Costs of Teen Childbearing Reconsidered.
To underscore this point even further, I would also point to an interesting study conducted for the federal white paper, Kids Having Kids, that did not fall into the trap of committing several methodological errors of the nature that other studies on teenage pregnancy do.Teen childbearing is commonly belied to cause long-term socioeconomic disadvantages for mothers and their children. However, earlier cross-sectional studies may have inadequately accounted for marked differences in family backgrounds among women who have first births at different ages. We present new estimates that take into account unmeasured family background heterogeneity by comparing sisters who timed their first births at different ages. In two of the three data sets we examine, sister comparisons suggest that biases from family background heterogeneity are important, and, therefore, that earlier studies may have overstated the consequences of teen childbearing.
Moreover, while reviewing Hotz et al., it is curious to note that their study goes even further than that of Geronimus and Korenman in rebutting the claims that teenage pregnancy is a cause of numerous socioeconomic problems. In fact, Hotz et al. found the precise opposite to be true.In Kids Having Kids, (my note: this is an oxymoron) researchers Hotz, Sanders, and McElroy used a new and innovative research approach that potentially controls for individual risk factors that cannot be directly measured and that can potentially lead to misleading (biased) estimates of the impact of a mother’s age at birth. This new approach used a 'natural experiment'—that is, a group of women who became pregnant and had a birth as a teen are compared to a group of women who became pregnant as a teen but had a miscarriage—as a way to approximate the results of a random assignment to having a teen birth. While there are concerns about sample sizes and other related measurement issues in this particular application, the Hotz et al. approach has substantial value in measuring true causal impacts… and its results have become the research standard at this point and they are used here for that reason (pp 20, 22).
This point is emphasized and re-emphasized repeatedly, highlighting just how great a contradiction of the "usual wisdom" it is, and how woefully inadequate that "usual wisdom" becomes when methodological errors used to find it are uncovered.Our major finding is that many of the apparent negative consequences of teenage child bearing on the subsequent socioeconomic attainment of teen mothers are much smaller than those found in studies that use alternative methodologies to identify the causal effects of teenage childbearing. We also find evidence that teenage mothers earn more in the labor market at older ages than they would have earned if they had delayed their births.
They determine that teenage childbearing can be a viable economic strategy for many.Our results suggest that much of the “concern” that has been registered regarding teenage childbearing is misplaced, at least based on its consequences for the subsequent educational and economic attainment of teen mothers. In particular, our estimates imply that the “poor” outcomes attained by such women cannot be attributed, in a causal sense, primarily to their decision to begin their childbearing at an early age. Rather, it appears that these outcomes are more the result of social and economic circumstances than they are the result of the early childbearing of these women. Furthermore, our estimates suggest that simply delaying their childbearing would not greatly enhance their educational attainment or subsequent earnings or affect their family structure…For most outcomes, the adverse consequences of early childbearing are short-lived. For annual hours of work and earnings, we find that a teen mother would have lower levels of each at older ages if they had delayed their childbearing.
It is also critical to note that because of the innovative research method that it uses, Hotz et al. does not fall prey to the numerous methodological issues mentioned by Geronimus and Korenman.Concentrating their childbearing at early ages may prove to be more compatible with their labor market career options than postponing their childbearing to older ages would be…The magnitudes of these estimated effects of teenage childbearing on subsequent labor market earnings are sizeable. Over the ages of 21 through 35, teen mothers earned an average $7,917 per year (in 1994 dollars). Based on the “All Covariates” estimates in Table 6, teen mothers would have earned an average of 31 percent less per year if they had delayed their childbearing.
Hence, I would question the veracity of the "studies" typically released in regards to the "effects" of teenage pregnancy.In this study, we have used an alternative and innovative strategy to estimate the causal effects associated with teenage childbearing in the U.S. In particular, we have focused on women who first become pregnant as teenagers and employ a natural experiment to obtain a more comparable,and plausible, comparison group with which to derive estimates of counterfactual outcomes for teen mothers. Our results suggest that much of the “concern” that has been registered regarding teenage childbearing is misplaced, at least based on its consequences for the subsequent educational and economic attainment of teen mothers. In particular, our estimates imply that the “poor” outcomes attained by such women cannot be attributed, in a causal sense, primarily to their decision to begin their childbearing at an early age. Rather, it appears that these outcomes are more the result of social and economic circumstances than they are the result of the early childbearing of these women. Furthermore, our estimates suggest that simply delaying their childbearing would not greatly enhance their educational attainment or subsequent earnings or affect their family structure.