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Abortion Legalization and Life-Cycle Fertility

  • Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat
  • Jonathan Gruber
  • Phillip Levine

The early-1970s abortion legalization led to a significant drop in fertility. We investigate whether this decline represented a delay in births or a permanent reduction in fertility. We combine Census and Vital Statistics data to compare the lifetime fertility of women born in early-legalizing states, whose peak childbearing years occurred in the early 1970s, to that of women from other states and cohorts. We find that much of the reduction was permanent, in that women did not compensate by having more children later, and that it largely reflects an increased share of women remaining childless throughout their fertile years.

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

Volume (Year): 42 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 ()

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:42:y:2007:i2:p375-397
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  1. Donohue, John J. & Levitt, Steven D., 2000. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt00p599hk, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
  2. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
  3. V. Joseph Hotz & Robert A. Miller, . "An Empirical Analysis of Life Cycle Fertility and Female Labor Supply," University of Chicago - Population Research Center 86-15, Chicago - Population Research Center.
  4. Heckman, James J & Walker, James R, 1990. "The Relationship between Wages and Income and the Timing and Spacing of Births: Evidence from Swedish Longitudinal Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1411-41, November.
  5. Charles, Kerwin Kofi & Stephens, Melvin, Jr, 2006. "Abortion Legalization and Adolescent Substance Use," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 481-505, October.
  6. Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine & Douglas Staiger, 1997. "Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the "Marginal Child?"," NBER Working Papers 6034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  8. Joseph Hotz, V. & Klerman, Jacob Alex & Willis, Robert J., 1993. "The economics of fertility in developed countries," Handbook of Population and Family Economics, in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 275-347 Elsevier.
  9. Renbao Chen & S. Morgan, 1991. "Recent Trends in the Timing of First Births in the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 28(4), pages 513-533, November.
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