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Restrictions on Medicaid Funding of Abortion: Effects on Birth Weight and Pregnancy Resolutions

  • Janet Currie
  • Lucia Nixon
  • Nancy Cole

Previous research suggests that restricting the availability of abortion reduces average birth weight. In this paper we use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth to reexamine this question. Most previous studies have estimated the probability that a pregnancy is carried to term, and then used these estimates to calculate "selection corrections" that are included in models of birth weight. We focus instead on reduced form models of birth weight that are not affected by underreporting of abortion, and that do not involve strong identifying restrictions. We also explore the potential endogeneity of abortion laws by comparing jurisdictions with abortion restrictions to jurisdictions where restrictive laws have been passed but are enjoined by the courts. Our results provide little support for the hypothesis that restrictions reduce average birth weight. We also find some evidence that abortion restrictions are endogenous, and that estimated effects on birth weight may reflect unobserved characteristics of states.

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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 31 (1996)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 159-188

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:31:y:1996:i:1:p:159-188
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. Corman, Hope & Grossman, Michael, 1985. "Determinants of neonatal mortality rates in the U.S. : A reduced form model," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 213-236, September.
  2. Grossman, Michael & Joyce, Theodore J, 1990. "Unobservables, Pregnancy Resolutions, and Birth Weight Production Functions in New York City," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 983-1007, October.
  3. Michael Grossman & Steven Jacobowitz, 1981. "Variations in Infant Mortality Rates among Counties in the United States: The Roles of Social Policies and Programs," NBER Working Papers 0615, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Elizabeth Cooksey, 1990. "Factors in the Resolution of Adolescent Premarital Pregnancies," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 27(2), pages 207-218, May.
  5. Hope Corman & Theodore J. Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1987. "Birth Outcome Production Function in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(3), pages 339-360.
  6. 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.
  7. Theodore Joyce & Michael Grossman, 1990. "Pregnancy wantedness and the early initiation of prenatal care," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 27(1), pages 1-17, February.
  8. Michael Grossman & Steven Jacobowitz, 1981. "Variations in infant mortality rates among counties of the United States: The roles of public policies and programs," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 18(4), pages 695-713, November.
  9. Mark R. Rosenzweig & T. Paul Schultz, 1982. "The Behavior of Mothers as Inputs to Child Health: The Determinants of Birth Weight, Gestation, and Rate of Fetal Growth," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 53-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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