The effects of school policies on student pregnancy risk
Atkins, Danielle Nicole
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Teenage pregnancy is a significant public health concern in the United States due to the documented negative social and economic impacts associated with teenage childbearing for both parent and child. Schools offer an opportune place for policy interventions aimed at decreasing teenage pregnancy. This dissertation evaluated the effect of three policies related to student reproductive health, providing including school-linked daycare, offering family planning services, and requiring pregnant students to attend separate schools, on 1) student sexual behaviors that determine pregnancy risk and 2) potential attitudinal mechanisms between the policies and sexual behaviors. I studied these questions using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), which is a nationally representative survey of youth. In order to guide my thinking about these questions, I developed a dynamic model of decision-making about protected and unprotected sexual activity based in neoclassical economic theory. My findings indicated that these policies do matter with regard to student decisions about sexual behaviors that put them at risk for pregnancy and attitudes that have been linked to sexual risk-taking behaviors. Policy implications are discussed.