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Roe v. Wade and American Fertility

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  • Phillip B. Levine
  • Douglas Staiger
  • Thomas J. Kane
  • David J. Zimmerman

Abstract

We consider the effect of abortion legalization on births in the United States. A simple theoretical model demonstrates that the impact of abortion legalization on the birth rate is ambiguous, because both pregnancy and abortion decisions could be affected. We use variation in the timing of legalization across states in the early 1970's to estimate the effect of abortion on birth rates. Our findings indicate that states legalizing abortion experienced a 5% decline in births relative to other states. The decline among teens, women over 35, and nonwhite women was even greater: 13%, 8%, and 12% respectively. Out-of-wedlock births declined by twice as much as births in wedlock. If legalization in some states affected birth rates in neighboring states (through travel to obtain an abortion), comparing births between states will underestimate the actual reduction. Using more distant comparison states increases the estimated impact of abortion legalization on birth rates to about 8%. Applying this estimate to the current level of births, a complete recriminalization of abortion would result in 320,000 additional births per year.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5615.

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Date of creation: Jun 1996
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5615

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  1. Lundberg, Shelly & Plotnick, Robert D, 1995. "Adolescent Premarital Childbearing: Do Economic Incentives Matter?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 177-200, April.
  2. Blank, Rebecca M. & George, Christine C. & London, Rebecca A., 1996. "State abortion rates the impact of policies, providers, politics, demographics, and economic environment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 513-553, October.
  3. Matthews, S. & Ribar, D. & Wilhelm, M., 1995. "The Effects of Economic Conditions and Access to Reproductive Health Services on State Abortion and Birth Rates," Papers 7-95-4, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  4. Kane, Thomas J & Staiger, Douglas, 1996. "Teen Motherhood and Abortion Access," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 467-506, May.
  5. Phillip B. Levine & Amy B. Trainor & David J. Zimmerman, 1995. "The Effect of Medicaid Abortion Funding Restrictions on Abortions, Pregnancies, and Births," NBER Working Papers 5066, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Janet Currie & Lucia Nixon & Nancy Cole, 1993. "Restrictions on Medicaid Funding of Abortion: Effects on Pregnancy Resolutions and Birth Weight," NBER Working Papers 4432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Kendall, Todd & Tamura, Robert, 2008. "Unmarried fertility, crime, and cocial stigma," MPRA Paper 8031, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Gabriel Chequer Hartung & Samuel Pessoa, 2007. "Fatores Demográficos Como Determinantes Da Criminalidade," Anais do XXXV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 35th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 112, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  3. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2006. "Divorce, Fertility and the Shot Gun Marriage," NBER Working Papers 12375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Melvin Stephens Jr., 2002. "Abortion Legalization and Adolescent Substance Use," NBER Working Papers 9193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Matsushita, Raul & Baldo, Dinorá & Martin, Bruna & Da Silva, Sergio, 2007. "The biological basis of expected utility anomalies," MPRA Paper 4520, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Jonathan Klick & Sven Neelsen & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "The Effect of Abortion Liberalization on Sexual Behavior: International Evidence," Ifo Working Paper Series Ifo Working Paper Nr. 79, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  7. Joshua D. Angrist & William N. Evans, 1996. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of the 1970 State Abortion Reforms," NBER Working Papers 5406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2011. "Divorce laws and fertility decisions," MPRA Paper 30243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Edlund, Lena Cecilia & Machado, Cecilia, 2009. "Marriage and Emancipation in The Age of The Pill," CEPR Discussion Papers 7485, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Sonia Oreffice, 2007. "Did the legalization of abortion increase women’s household bargaining power? Evidence from labor supply," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 181-207, June.
  11. David E. Bloom & David Canning & Guenther Fink & Jocelyn E. Finlay, 2007. "Fertility, Female Labor Force Participation, and the Demographic Dividend," PGDA Working Papers 2507, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  12. 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.
  13. Sonia Oreffice, 2003. "Abortion and Female Power in the Household Evidence from Labor Supply," Working Papers 2003.41, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

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