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Abortion and Female Power in the Household Evidence from Labor Supply


  • Sonia Oreffice

    (The University of Chicago)


Legalization of abortion in the 1970s represents a major cultural change: it gives women a higher degree of freedom to directly control their fertility, allowing them to ultimately decide upon children without man’s consent and to decrease uncertainty in their expected labor market returns. This public policy and its implications on female behavior have been so far analyzed through its direct consequences on fertility and fertility technology, primarily on women actually experiencing an abortion. However, it seems relevant to evaluate its indirect effects on female bargaining power within the household, for all women that face abortion as an actual opportunity, without necessarily experiencing one. I focus on the indirect effect of abortion legalization in the United States on women’s position in the household. My findings suggest that the legalization positively affected female bargaining power.

Suggested Citation

  • Sonia Oreffice, 2003. "Abortion and Female Power in the Household Evidence from Labor Supply," Working Papers 2003.41, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2003.41

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. M. Browning & P. A. Chiappori, 1998. "Efficient Intra-Household Allocations: A General Characterization and Empirical Tests," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(6), pages 1241-1278, November.
    2. Browning, Martin & Francois Bourguignon & Pierre-Andre Chiappori & Valerie Lechene, 1994. "Income and Outcomes: A Structural Model of Intrahousehold Allocation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1067-1096, December.
    3. Killingsworth, Mark R. & Heckman, James J., 1987. "Female labor supply: A survey," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & R. Layard (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 2, pages 103-204 Elsevier.
    4. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
    5. Browning, Martin & Meghir, Costas, 1991. "The Effects of Male and Female Labor Supply on Commodity Demands," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 925-951, July.
    6. John J. Donohue III & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420.
    7. Gray, Jeffrey S, 1998. "Divorce-Law Changes, Household Bargaining, and Married Women's Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 628-642, June.
    8. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Phillip B. Levine & Douglas Staiger & Thomas J. Kane & David J. Zimmerman, 1996. "Roe v. Wade and American Fertility," NBER Working Papers 5615, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Rubalcava, L. & Thomas, D., 2000. "Family Bargaining and Welfare," Papers 00-10, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    11. Lawrence F. Katz & Claudia Goldin, 2000. "Career and Marriage in the Age of the Pill," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 461-465, May.
    12. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1988. "Rational Household Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 63-90, January.
    13. Blundell, Richard & Pashardes, Panos & Weber, Guglielmo, 1993. "What Do We Learn About Consumer Demand Patterns from Micro Data?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 570-597, June.
    14. Mroz, Thomas A, 1987. "The Sensitivity of an Empirical Model of Married Women's Hours of Work to Economic and Statistical Assumptions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 765-799, July.
    15. Chiappori, Pierre-Andre, 1992. "Collective Labor Supply and Welfare," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 437-467, June.
    16. Heckman, James J, 1974. "Shadow Prices, Market Wages, and Labor Supply," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(4), pages 679-694, July.
    17. Chiappori, Pierre-André & Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy, 1998. "Household Labor Supply, Sharing Rule and the Marriage Market," Cahiers de recherche 9810, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
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    More about this item


    Abortion; collective household behavior; labor supply;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • K39 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Other

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