Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Age of Majority and Women’s Early Human Capital Accumulation in Australia

Cragun, Randy and Chatterjee, Ishita (2020): Age of Majority and Women’s Early Human Capital Accumulation in Australia.

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Past research has suggested that Common Law restrictions may have prevented minors from obtaining oral contraceptives (the pill) without parental consent and that, thus, reductions in the age at which a woman became a legal adult could work through access to the pill to increase incomes, educational attainment, and participation in occupations previously dominated by men, but these age of majority changes are often confounded with other relevant legal changes. Because Australian states had similar reasons for lowering their ages of majority around the same time as US states did but did not enact other youth consent or pill access measures around the same time, we use state-specific variation in Australian age of majority laws and estimate effects on schooling attainment and life-cycle incomes, finding that living under an age of majority of 18 rather than 21 decreased women's weekly earnings slightly in their 20s and increased their earnings at later ages and increased their probability of bachelor degree attainment by around 1.5 percentage points (from a baseline of 14%).

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