Teen out-of-wedlock mothers have lower education and earnings than do peers who have children later. This study uses the National Educational Longitudinal Survey of 1988 to examine the extent to which the apparent effects of out-of-wedlock teen childbearing are due to preexisting disadvantages of the young women and their families. We use a novel method that matches teen mothers to similar young women in their junior high school (that is, prior to pregnancy). We find that out-of-wedlock fertility reduces education substantially, although far less than the cross-sectional comparisons of means suggest. We further find that this effect is larger among those with lower probabilities of having a child out of wedlock.

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