If the minimum wage is increased by a dollar, the adolescent birth rate would likely go down by two percent.
These findings were presented by Lindsey Rose Bullinger, an associate instructor and doctoral student at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
"Adolescents in the United States are more likely to have teen births than any other developed nation," Bullinger said. "The theory is that when teenagers feel as if they have no economic stability or mobility, they might as well enter parenting at a younger age. I wanted to test that theory using policy tools."
Bullinger discovered that with a one dollar increase in the minimum wage, adolescent births could decline by 5,000 births annually. And that number could continue to climb as the minimum wage is raised even higher. This is especially true for non-Hispanic white and Hispanic adolescents because they are more likely to be affected by minimum wage increases, Bullinger said.
Aside from the obvious health benefits, decreasing the number of adolescent parents would have a positive impact on the economy. Parenthood at an early age costs the public more than $9 billion annually because of expenses related to health care, foster care and lost tax revenue from parents who leave or never join the workforce, according to a release from the university.
"Raising the minimum wage by a dollar is not unrealistic, so I think this study will help policy makers understand the real-life health implications of policy that traditionally only looks at labor markets," Bullinger said. "There are lots of unintended consequences that aren't negative."