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Abortion Legalization and Lifecycle Fertility

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  • Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat
  • Jonathan Gruber
  • Phillip B. Levine

Abstract

Previous research has convincingly shown that abortion legalization in the early 1970s led to a significant drop in fertility at that time. But this decline may have either represented a delay in births from a point where they were have represented a permanent reduction in fertility. We combine data from the 1970 U.S. Census and microdata from 1968 to 1999 Vital Statistics records to calculate lifetime fertility of women in the 1930s through 1960s birth cohorts. We examine whether those women who were born in early legalizing states and who passed through the early 1970s in their peak childbearing years had differential lifetime fertility patterns compared to women born in other states and in different birth cohorts. We consider the impact of abortion legalization on both the number of children ever born as well as the distribution of number of children ever born. Our results indicate that much of the reduction in fertility at the time abortion was legalized was permanent in that women did not have more subsequent births as a result. We also find that this result is largely attributable to an increase in the number of women who remained childless throughout their fertile years.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10705.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
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Publication status: published as Ananat, Elizabeth Oltmans, Jonathan Gruber and Phillip Levine. “Abortion Legalization and Lifecycle Fertility." Journal of Human Resources 42, 2 (2007): 375-397.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10705

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  1. Joseph Hotz, V. & Klerman, Jacob Alex & Willis, Robert J., 1993. "The economics of fertility in developed countries," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 275-347 Elsevier.
  2. Heckman, James J & Walker, James R, 1990. "The Relationship between Wages and Income and the Timing and Spacing of Births: Evidence from Swedish Longitudinal Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1411-41, November.
  3. V. Joseph Hotz & Robert A. Miller, . "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 86-15, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  4. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
  5. Donohue, John J. & Levitt, Steven D., 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt00p599hk, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  6. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  7. Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Abortion Legalization And Child Living Circumstances: Who Is The ''Marginal Child''?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 263-291, February.
  8. Charles, Kerwin Kofi & Stephens, Melvin, Jr, 2006. "Abortion Legalization and Adolescent Substance Use," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 481-505, October.
  9. Renbao Chen & S. Morgan, 1991. "Recent Trends in the Timing of First Births in the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 513-533, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Jonathan Gruber & Phillip B. Levine & Douglas Staiger, 2009. "Abortion and Selection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 124-136, February.
  2. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 2006. "Measurement Error, Legalized Abortion, and the Decline in Crime: A Response to Foote and Goetz (2005)," NBER Working Papers 11987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Youjin Hahn & Liang Choon Wang & Hee-Seung Yang, 2012. "Child vs. Pet: The Effect of Abortion Legalization on the Demand for Pets," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series 57-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  4. Egger, Peter H. & Radulescu, Doina M., 2012. "Family policy and the number of children: Evidence from a natural experiment," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 524-539.
  5. Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2007. "Socioeconomic Disadvantage and Early Childbearing," NBER Chapters, in: The Problems of Disadvantaged Youth: An Economic Perspective, pages 181-209 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Marianne Bitler, 2005. "Effects of Increased Access to Infertility Treatment on Infant and Child Health Outcomes: Evidence from Health Insurance Mandates," PPIC Working Papers 2005.06, Public Policy Institute of California.
  7. Melanie Guldi, 2008. "Fertility effects of abortion and birth control pill access for minors," Demography, Springer, vol. 45(4), pages 817-827, November.
  8. Hussey, Andrew & Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Alex & Walker, Jay, 2010. "AIDing Contraception: HIV and Recent Trends in Abortion Rates," MPRA Paper 20895, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2007. "The Power of the Pill for the Next Generation," NBER Working Papers 13402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Tal Gross & Jeanne Lafortune & Corinne Low, 2012. "What Happens the Morning After? The Costs and Benets of Expanding Access to Emergency Contraception," Documentos de Trabajo 425, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
  11. Theodore J. Joyce, 2006. "Further Tests of Abortion and Crime: A Response to Donohue and Levitt (2001,2004, 2006)," NBER Working Papers 12607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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