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Population Policy: Abortion and Modern Contraception Are Substitutes

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  • Miller, Grant

    () (Stanford University)

  • Valente, Christine

    () (University of Bristol)

Abstract

There is longstanding debate in population policy about the relationship between modern contraception and abortion. Although theory predicts that they should be substitutes, the existing body of empirical evidence is difficult to interpret. What is required is a large-scale intervention that alters the supply (or full price) of one or the other – and importantly, does so in isolation (reproductive health programs often bundle primary health care and family planning – and in some instances, abortion services). In this paper, we study Nepal's 2004 legalization of abortion provision and subsequent expansion of abortion services, an unusual and rapidly-implemented policy meeting these requirements. Using four waves of rich individual-level data representative of fertile-age Nepalese women, we find robust evidence of substitution between modern contraception and abortion. This finding has important implications for public policy and foreign aid, suggesting that an effective strategy for reducing expensive and potentially unsafe abortions may be to expand the supply of modern contraceptives.

Suggested Citation

  • Miller, Grant & Valente, Christine, 2016. "Population Policy: Abortion and Modern Contraception Are Substitutes," IZA Discussion Papers 9809, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9809
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Megan Beckett & Julie Da Vanzo & Narayan Sastry & Constantijn Panis & Christine Peterson, 2001. "The Quality of Retrospective Data: An Examination of Long-Term Recall in a Developing Country," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(3), pages 593-625.
    2. repec:pri:rpdevs:hammer_the_impact_of_recall_periods_on_reported_morbidity_and_health_seeking_behavior.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2007. "The Power of the Pill for the Next Generation," NBER Working Papers 13402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Valente, Christine, 2014. "Access to abortion, investments in neonatal health, and sex-selection: Evidence from Nepal," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 225-243.
    5. Kelly M. Jones, 2015. "Contraceptive Supply and Fertility Outcomes: Evidence from Ghana," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(1), pages 31-69.
    6. Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2010. "The Supply of Birth Control Methods, Education, and Fertility: Evidence from Romania," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 971-997.
    7. Das, Jishnu & Hammer, Jeffrey & Sánchez-Paramo, Carolina, 2012. "The impact of recall periods on reported morbidity and health seeking behavior," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 76-88.
    8. Hausman, J. A. & Abrevaya, Jason & Scott-Morton, F. M., 1998. "Misclassification of the dependent variable in a discrete-response setting," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 239-269, September.
    9. Sam Peltzman, 2011. "Offsetting Behavior, Medical Breakthroughs, and Breakdowns," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(3), pages 302-341.
    10. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2012. "The Power of the Pill for the Next Generation: Oral Contraception's Effects on Fertility, Abortion, and Maternal and Child Characteristics," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 37-51, February.
    11. Peltzman, Sam, 1975. "The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 677-725, August.
    12. Thomas J. Kane & Douglas Staiger, 1996. "Teen Motherhood and Abortion Access," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 467-506.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    abortion; contraception; Nepal;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N35 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Asia including Middle East

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