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Abortion and Selection

Author

Listed:
  • Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat
  • Jonathan Gruber
  • Phillip B. Levine
  • Douglas Staiger

Abstract

The introduction of legalized abortion in the early 1970s led to dramatic changes in fertility behavior. Some research has suggested as well that there were important impacts on cohort outcomes, but this literature has been limited and controversial. In this paper, we provide a framework for understanding the mechanisms through which abortion access affects cohort outcomes, and use that framework to both address inconsistent past methodological approaches, and provide evidence on the long-run impact on cohort characteristics. Our results provide convincing evidence that abortion legalization altered young adult outcomes through selection. In particular, we find evidence that lower costs of abortion led to improved outcomes in the birth cohort in the form of an increased likelihood of college graduation, lower rates of welfare use, and lower odds of being a single parent. We also find that our empirical innovations do not substantially alter earlier results regarding the relationship between abortion and crime, although most of that relationship appears to reflect cohort size effects rather than selection.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Jonathan Gruber & Phillip B. Levine & Douglas Staiger, 2006. "Abortion and Selection," NBER Working Papers 12150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12150
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine, 2007. "Abortion Legalization and Life-Cycle Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
    2. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
    3. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Did Legalized Abortion Lower Crime?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    4. 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.
    5. John J. Donohue, III & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Further Evidence that Legalized Abortion Lowered Crime: A Reply to Joyce," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    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. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
    8. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
    9. Christopher L. Foote & Christopher F. Goetz, 2005. "Testing economic hypotheses with state-level data: a comment on Donohue and Levitt (2001)," Working Papers 05-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    10. 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.
    11. Ted Joyce, 2004. "Further Tests of Abortion and Crime," NBER Working Papers 10564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Levine, Phillip B., 2003. "Parental involvement laws and fertility behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 861-878, September.
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    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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