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Early Non-marital Childbearing And The "Culture Of Despair"

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Executive Summary

This paper borrows from the tradition of other social sciences in considering the impact that "Culture" (broadly defined as the economic and social environment in which the poor live) plays in determining early, non-marital childbearing. Along with others before the authors, they hypothesize that the despair and hopelessness that poor, young women may face increases the likelihood that they will give birth at an early age outside of marriage. They derive a formal economic model that incorporates the perception of economic success as a key factor driving one's decision to have an early, non-marital birth. They propose that this perception is based in part on the level of income inequality that exists in a woman's location of residence.

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