Smoking as a Predictor of Teenage Pregnancy

Student Author(s)

Jessica Lindquist

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sarah Estelle

Document Type


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Teenage pregnancy is an ongoing social and economic issue because those who become pregnant as teenagers have additional academic, personal, and financial challenges throughout their lives. Determining the relevance of an individual’s time preference on the likelihood of becoming pregnant may identify helpful precautionary measures. A rational decision regarding sexual activity as a teenager involves benefits that are incurred more immediately, while the cost of sexual activity including possible pregnancy is delayed. This paper examines whether teenage smoking, as a proxy for time preference, is a significant predictor of teenage pregnancy. If teenagers who choose to smoke have a higher rate of time preference, then they might also weight more heavily the immediate benefits of sexual activity relative to the future costs. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, this paper separately identifies the effect of time preference from other determinants of teenage pregnancy by employing a school fixed effects model and controlling for individual and family characteristics. The results suggest that a female teenager’s decision to smoke regularly increases her likelihood of becoming pregnant by 3.85 percent. The results of the male regression models show there is no relationship between regularly smoking and getting someone pregnant, but smoking large quantities of cigarettes per month increased the probability of causing a pregnancy.

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