Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Birthing a Nation: The Effect of Fertility Control Access on the 19th Century Demographic Transition

Contents:

Author Info

  • Joanna Lahey

Abstract

During the 19th century, the US birthrate fell by half. While previous economic literature has emphasized demand-side explanations for this decline—that rising land prices and literacy caused a decrease in demand for children—historians and others have emphasized changes in the supply of technologies to control fertility, including abortion and birth control. In this paper I exploit the introduction during the 19th century of state laws governing American women’s access to abortion to measure the effect of changes in the supply of fertility technologies on the number of children born. I estimate an increase in the birthrate of 4 to 12% when abortion is restricted, which lies within the ranges of estimates found for the effect of fertility control supply restrictions on birthrates today. The importance of legal abortion in reducing 19th-century birthrates helps to account for a previously unexplained portion of the demographic transition. This paper posits that there has long been a demand, often unmet, for fertility control that should be considered in future demographic research as well as in policy formulation.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18717.pdf
Download Restriction: Access to the full text is generally limited to series subscribers, however if the top level domain of the client browser is in a developing country or transition economy free access is provided. More information about subscriptions and free access is available at http://www.nber.org/wwphelp.html. Free access is also available to older working papers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18717.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Economic History, Forthcoming.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18717

Note: AG CH DAE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18717. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.