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Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the "Marginal Child"?

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  • Jonathan Gruber
  • Phillip Levine
  • Douglas Staiger

Abstract

We examine the impact of increased abortion availability on the average living standards of children through a selection effect. Would the marginal child who was not born have grown up in different circumstances than the average child? We use variation in the timing of abortion legalization across states to answer this question. Cohorts born after legalized abortion experienced a significant reduction in a number of adverse outcomes. We find that the marginal child would have been 40–60 percent more likely to live in a single-parent family, to live in poverty, to receive welfare, and to die as an infant.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine & Douglas Staiger, 1999. "Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the "Marginal Child"?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 263-291.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:1:p:263-291.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/003355399556007
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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