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The impact of sex education mandates on teenage pregnancy: International evidence

Soto, Juan; Paton, David; Bullivant, Stephen

The impact of sex education mandates on teenage pregnancy: International evidence Thumbnail


Juan Soto

Stephen Bullivant


To date most studies of the impact of school-based sex education have focused either on specific, local interventions or experiences at a national level. In this paper we use a new cross-country dataset to explore the extent to which laws on sex education affect teenage pregnancy rates in developed countries. We find some evidence that laws mandating sex education in schools are associated with higher rates of teenage fertility. Parental opt out laws may minimise adverse effects of sex education mandates for younger teens. The estimated effects of mandatory sex education are robust to some but not all of our specifications designed to tease out causality. Taken together, changes in national laws relating to sexual health are unable to explain the significant declines in teenage pregnancy rates which have been observed in many developed countries in recent years.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 26, 2020
Online Publication Date Apr 24, 2020
Publication Date 2020-07
Deposit Date Mar 30, 2020
Publicly Available Date Apr 25, 2021
Journal Health Economics
Print ISSN 1057-9230
Electronic ISSN 1099-1050
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 7
Pages 790-807
Keywords sex education; abortion; teenage pregnancy; panel data; health policy
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Received: 2019-08-28; Accepted: 2020-03-26; Published: 2020-04-24


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