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The impact of legalized abortion on high school graduation through selection and composition

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  • Whitaker, Stephan

Abstract

This analysis examines whether the legalization of abortion changed high school graduation rates among the children selected into birth. Unless women in all socio-economic circum-stances sought abortions to the same extent, increased use of abortion must have changed the distribution of child development inputs. I find that higher abortion ratios are associated with higher graduation rates for black males, but not other demographic groups. In a pooled analysis, I find that abortion has a significant negative impact on graduation rates. The effect disappears when I control for ethnicity. The cohorts born between 1965 and 1979 contained falling shares of whites, who have relatively high graduation rates. Regression results indicate abortion ratios are linked with the fertility differences between ethnicities, which suggests this is a channel of influence. Overall, the relationship between abortion exposure and educational attainment is small. A standard deviation change in abortion might move the national graduation rate by less than three-tenths of a percentage point.

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  • Whitaker, Stephan, 2011. "The impact of legalized abortion on high school graduation through selection and composition," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 228-246, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:2:p:228-246
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