Orphanhood and fertility in young adults: Evidence from South Africa

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I study the relation between orphanhood and fertility patterns in young adults using a longitudinal survey from the city of Cape Town, South Africa. The data set combines two survey waves with a year-by-year life history calendar that records key outcomes (e.g., schooling, work, fertility). It also provides information on so-called ‘parental investments’ (time and material support), family background, and literacy and numeracy test scores. I find that orphans exhibit significantly higher rates of teenage pregnancy. In particular, teenage motherhood is 19% points more likely among (female) orphans. These results suggest that orphanhood may leave a long-lasting ‘imprint’ in terms of premature fertility, especially in teenage females.

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