Causes and Consequences of Teen Childbearing: Evidence from a Reproductive Health Intervention in South Africa

Working Paper


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University of Cape Town


The rollout of the National Adolescent Friendly Clinic Initiative (NAFCI) serves as a natural experiment to study the causes and consequences of early teen child bearing. Geolinking residence histories to the rollout, we estimate that living near a NAFCI clinic during adolescence delayed early childbearing by 1.2 years on average. Adolescents who had access to NAFCI completed more years of schooling and, consistent with increased human capital investments, earn substantially higher wages as young adults. Children born to women who had access to youth-friendly services as teens show substantial health advantages, indicating a strong intergenerational benefit of delayed childbearing.

We are grateful to Cally Ardington, Martha Bailey, Diane Cooper, Robert Garlick, David Lam, Murray Leibbrandt, and Jeff Smith for helpful comments and guidance.

This project was generously supported by a William and Flora Hewlett Foundation/Institute of International Education Dissertation Fellowship in Population, Reproductive Health and Economic Development and the Hewlett/PRB Global Teams of Research Excellence in Population, Reproductive Health, and Economic Development. Tanya Byker also received support from an NICHD training grant to the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan (T32 HD007339).