Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Mroz, Thomas A.
Maloney , Michael T.
Wallace , Myles S.
In the first chapter, I use exogenous variation in state minimum legal drinking ages to examine the relationship between restrictions on teen alcohol consumption and youth fertility. Using individual level data, I find that a decrease in the minimum drinking age during the late 1970s and 1980s leads, surprisingly, to a decrease in pregnancy rate among 15-17 year-old white women. The pregnancy rate among 15-17 year-old black women, on the other hand, significantly increases with the decrease in the drinking age. I find similar racial variations for unwanted pregnancies among 15-17 years old. The differentiated response to changes in eligibility requirements persist for 18-20 year-old women. I find evidence of a compositional change toward wanted pregnancies associated with the decrease in drinking age for 18-20 year-old white women; the eligibility restrictions have only a statistically weak effect on fertility of 18-20 year-old blacks and Hispanics. These effects can only be found in individual level data. Analysis of state-level aggregate fertility rates fails to reveal these important racial differences.
In the second chapter, I study the effect of alcohol consumption on youth fertility. Alcohol consumption is often believed to be a cause of risk-taking behaviors. Despite a well-established correlation between alcohol intake and various risk-taking sexual behaviors, the causality remains unknown. I attempt to establish a causal effect of alcohol use on the likelihood of pregnancy among youth using a variety of models ranging from a fully parametric to a semi-parametric discrete factor approximation method. Using data on 17-28 year-old women from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, I find that even after controlling for unobserved heterogeneity alcohol consumption increases the likelihood of pregnancy by 4.7 percentage points. This positive effect was observed in the semi-parametric model where the cumulative distribution of heterogeneity was approximated by a 4-point discrete distribution. Quantitatively similar but statistically weaker estimates were obtained from the two-stage least squares model and the bivariate probit model. Finally, models that ignore the effect of unobserved heterogeneity failed to establish this relationship.
Cintina, Inna, "Essays on the Link Between Alcohol Consumption and Youth Fertility" (2011). All Dissertations. 728.