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Abortion Access and Risky Sex Among Teens: Parental Involvement Laws and Sexually Transmitted Diseases


  • Thomas Stratmann


Laws requiring minors to seek parental consent or to notify a parent prior to obtaining an abortion raise the cost of risky sex for teenagers. Assuming choices to engage in risky sex are made rationally, parental involvement laws should lead to less risky sex among teens, either because of a reduction of sexual activity altogether or because teens will be more fastidious in the use of birth control ex ante . Using gonorrhea rates among older women to control for unobserved heterogeneity across states, our results indicate that the enactment of parental involvement laws significantly reduces risky sexual activity among teenage girls. We estimate reductions in gonorrhea rates of 20% for Hispanics and 12% for whites. Although we find a relatively small reduction in rates for black girls, it is not statistically significant. We speculate that the racial heterogeneity has to do with differences in family structure across races. The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:, Oxford University Press.

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  • Thomas Stratmann, 2008. "Abortion Access and Risky Sex Among Teens: Parental Involvement Laws and Sexually Transmitted Diseases," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 2-21, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:24:y:2008:i:1:p:2-21

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    Cited by:

    1. Girma, Sourafel & Paton, David, 2015. "Is education the best contraception: The case of teenage pregnancy in England?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 1-9.
    2. Silvie Colman & Ted Joyce & Thomas S. Dee, 2011. "Laws Requiring Parental Involvement to Obtain Abortion and Prevalence of Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Minors," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 5487801502744bad99ad6f4df, Mathematica Policy Research.
    3. Colman, Silvie & Dee, Thomas S. & Joyce, Ted, 2013. "Do parental involvement laws deter risky teen sex?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 873-880.
    4. Sabia, Joseph J. & Anderson, D. Mark, 2016. "The effect of parental involvement laws on teen birth control use," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 55-62.
    5. Girma, Sourafel & Paton, David, 2011. "The impact of emergency birth control on teen pregnancy and STIs," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 373-380, March.
    6. Myers, Caitlin Knowles & Ladd, Daniel, 2017. "Did Parental Involvement Laws Grow Teeth? The Effects of State Restrictions on Minors' Access to Abortion," IZA Discussion Papers 10952, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Madeline Zavodny & David Paton, 2006. "Teenage Pregnancy Risk: the impact of parental involvement for contraception," Occasional Papers 18, Industrial Economics Division.
    8. Sourafel Girma & David Paton, 2013. "Does Parental Consent for Birth Control Affect Underage Pregnancy Rates? The Case of Texas," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(6), pages 2105-2128, December.
    9. Sen, Bisakha & Wingate, Martha Slay & Kirby, Russell, 2012. "The relationship between state abortion-restrictions and homicide deaths among children under 5 years of age: A longitudinal study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 156-164.
    10. Jonathan Klick & Sven Neelsen & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "The Effect of Abortion Liberalization on Sexual Behavior: International Evidence," ifo Working Paper Series 79, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.

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