IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/18717.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Birthing a Nation: The Effect of Fertility Control Access on the 19th Century Demographic Transition

Author

Listed:
  • Joanna Lahey

Abstract

During the 19th century, the US birthrate fell by half. While previous economic literature has emphasized demand-side explanations for this decline--that rising land prices and literacy caused a decrease in demand for children--historians and others have emphasized changes in the supply of technologies to control fertility, including abortion and birth control. In this paper I exploit the introduction during the 19th century of state laws governing American women's access to abortion to measure the effect of changes in the supply of fertility technologies on the number of children born. I estimate an increase in the birthrate of 4 to 12% when abortion is restricted, which lies within the ranges of estimates found for the effect of fertility control supply restrictions on birthrates today. The importance of legal abortion in reducing 19th-century birthrates helps to account for a previously unexplained portion of the demographic transition. This paper posits that there has long been a demand, often unmet, for fertility control that should be considered in future demographic research as well as in policy formulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Joanna Lahey, 2013. "Birthing a Nation: The Effect of Fertility Control Access on the 19th Century Demographic Transition," NBER Working Papers 18717, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18717 Note: AG CH DAE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18717.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Maurice Obstfeld, 2012. "Does the Current Account Still Matter?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 1-23, May.
    2. Bekaert, Geert & Hoerova, Marie & Lo Duca, Marco, 2013. "Risk, uncertainty and monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(7), pages 771-788.
    3. John B. Taylor, 2007. "Housing and monetary policy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 463-476.
    4. Bruno, Valentina & Shin, Hyun Song, 2015. "Capital flows and the risk-taking channel of monetary policy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 119-132.
    5. Colin Gray, 2013. "Responding to a Monetary Superpower: Investigating the Behavioral Spillovers of U.S. Monetary Policy," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 41(2), pages 173-184, June.
    6. Taylor, John B., 1985. "International coordination in the design of macroeconomic policy rules," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(1-2), pages 53-81.
    7. Michael D. Bordo & John Landon-Lane, 2014. "Does Expansionary Monetary Policy Cause Asset Price Booms? Some Historical and Empirical Evidence," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Sofía Bauducco & Lawrence Christiano & Claudio Raddatz (ed.), Macroeconomic and Financial Stability: challenges for Monetary Policy, edition 1, volume 19, chapter 3, pages 61-116 Central Bank of Chile.
    8. Wieland, Volker & Cwik, Tobias & Müller, Gernot J. & Schmidt, Sebastian & Wolters, Maik, 2012. "A new comparative approach to macroeconomic modeling and policy analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(3), pages 523-541.
    9. Gilles Oudiz & Jeffrey Sachs, 1984. "Macroeconomic Policy Coordination among the Industrial Economies," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 15(1), pages 1-76.
    10. Boris Hofmann & Bilyana Bogdanova, 2012. "Taylor rules and monetary policy: a global "Great Deviation"?," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, September.
    11. Jaime Caruana, 2012. "Luncheon address: policymaking in an interconnected world," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 313-324.
    12. George A. Kahn, 2010. "Taylor rule deviations and financial imbalances," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q II, pages 63-99.
    13. repec:fip:fedgsq:y:2010:x:4 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Ahrend, Rudiger, 2010. "Monetary ease: A factor behind financial crises? Some evidence from OECD countries," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 4, pages 1-30.
    15. anonymous, 2012. "Luncheon discussion: policymaking in an interconnected world," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 325-329.
    16. Claudio Borio & Piti Disyatat, 2011. "Global imbalances and the financial crisis: Link or no link?," BIS Working Papers 346, Bank for International Settlements.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • K3 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18717. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.