Teen Mother

RAISING UK SCHOOL LEAVING AGE LIKELY TO REDUCE TEENAGE PREGNANCIES

Raising the compulsory school leaving age in the UK is likely to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancy, currently among the highest in Europe. That is the conclusion of research by Tanya Wilson, presented at the Royal Economic Society’s 2013 annual conference.

The research predicts that teen fertility rates will fall in response to a legislative change that requires 16 and 17 year olds to participate in education or training. This raising of the compulsory school leaving age will come in to effect in summer 2013.

The study bases this prediction on an investigation of the effect of the 1972 education reform known as the Raising of School Leaving Age (RoSLA). This reform increased the mandatory school leaving age from 15 to 16 in England and Wales, affecting those born from September 1957 onwards. The study analyses the fertility decisions of a sample of 230,000 young women born between 1946 and 1984, drawn from the Labour Force Survey – the largest UK household-level survey.

The results show that raising the school leaving age reduced the proportion of people leaving education by age 15 by 20 percentage points, as expected by the change in the law.

The data also indicate that RoSLA led to a 7% decrease in the likelihood of young women becoming a mother before the age of 20. The impact was even larger for younger age groups – the incidence of motherhood for those aged 16 and under was 17% lower.

The author argues that the main effect of raising the school leaving age was to postpone childbearing from the teen years to the early 20s. The research looks at women’s fertility choices up to age 30 and finds that the policy effect stopped from age 22 onwards. This suggests, however, that increasing the school leaving age by one year results in a postponement of motherhood of more than one year.

More…

Raising the compulsory school leaving age is an effective strategy to reduce teenage motherhood, with the under-17 age group experiencing the largest impact. These are the main findings of new research by Tanya Wilson.

The research suggests that teen fertility rates are likely to fall in response to the introduction of the raising of participation age. This is a legislative change resulting from the Education and Skills Act (2008) that requires 16 and 17 year olds to participate in education or training, affecting the first cohort of participants in England in the summer of 2013.

The research investigates the impact of the 1972 education reform known as the Raising of School Leaving Age (RoSLA). This reform increased the mandatory school leaving age from 15 to 16 in England and Wales, affecting those born from September 1957 onwards. The study analyses the fertility decisions of a sample of 230,000 young women born between 1946 and 1984, drawn from the Labour Force Survey – the largest UK household level survey.

The results show that RoSLA had a significant impact on the minimum education level. There was a decrease of 20 percentage points in the proportion of individuals leaving education by age 15 coinciding with the introduction of RoSLA, but no significant impact of RoSLA on participation beyond the new compulsory schooling age.

The data also indicate that RoSLA induced a 7% decrease in the propensity to become a mother before the age of 20. The impact was even larger for younger age groups: the incidence of motherhood for those aged 16 and under was measured to be 17% lower for those subject to RoSLA than those unaffected by the educational reform.

The main impact of RoSLA was essentially to induce a postponement of fertility from the teen years to the early 20s. The research considers fertility decisions for women up to age 30, finding that RoSLA exerted a negative impact on motherhood throughout the teenage years up to and including age 18, a positive effect for ages 19 through to 21, but no effect from age 22 onwards.

As significant impacts of RoSLA on teen fertility are found for ages beyond the increased mandatory age without an impact on participation in education, this suggests that increasing the school leaving age by one year results in a postponement of fertility of more than one year.

ENDS


Notes for editors:

‘Compulsory Education and Teenage Motherhood’ by Tanya Wilson from Royal Holloway, University of London.

Contact:

Tanya Wilson: 01784 414005 (tanya.wilson.2011@rhul.ac.uk)

RES media consultant Romesh Vaitilingam:
+44 (0) 7768 661095
romesh@vaitilingam.com
@econromesh

Page Options