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Roe v. Wade and American Fertility

Author

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  • Phillip B. Levine
  • Douglas Staiger
  • Thomas J. Kane
  • David J. Zimmerman

Abstract

We consider the effect of abortion legalization on births in the United States. A simple theoretical model demonstrates that the impact of abortion legalization on the birth rate is ambiguous, because both pregnancy and abortion decisions could be affected. We use variation in the timing of legalization across states in the early 1970's to estimate the effect of abortion on birth rates. Our findings indicate that states legalizing abortion experienced a 5% decline in births relative to other states. The decline among teens, women over 35, and nonwhite women was even greater: 13%, 8%, and 12% respectively. Out-of-wedlock births declined by twice as much as births in wedlock. If legalization in some states affected birth rates in neighboring states (through travel to obtain an abortion), comparing births between states will underestimate the actual reduction. Using more distant comparison states increases the estimated impact of abortion legalization on birth rates to about 8%. Applying this estimate to the current level of births, a complete recriminalization of abortion would result in 320,000 additional births per year.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5615
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lundberg, Shelly & Plotnick, Robert D, 1995. "Adolescent Premarital Childbearing: Do Economic Incentives Matter?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 177-200, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Leonid V. Azarnert, 2009. "Abortion And Human Capital Accumulation: A Contribution To The Understanding Of The Gender Gap In Education," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 56(5), pages 559-579, November.
    2. Steingrimsdottir, Herdis, 2016. "Reproductive rights and the career plans of U.S. college freshmen," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 29-41.
    3. François, Abel & Magni-Berton, Raul & Weill, Laurent, 2014. "Abortion and crime: Cross-country evidence from Europe," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 24-35.
    4. Mølland, Eirin, 2016. "Benefits from delay? The effect of abortion availability on young women and their children," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 6-28.
    5. Sonia Oreffice, 2003. "Abortion and Female Power in the Household Evidence from Labor Supply," Working Papers 2003.41, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    6. Hussey, Andrew & Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Alex & Walker, Jay, 2010. "AIDing Contraception: HIV and Recent Trends in Abortion Rates," MPRA Paper 20895, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Alberto Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2006. "Divorce, fertility and the shot gun marriage," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2117, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    8. 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.
    9. Sonia Oreffice, 2007. "Did the legalization of abortion increase women’s household bargaining power? Evidence from labor supply," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 181-207, June.
    10. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Joyce, Ted & Tan, Ruoding & Zhang, Yuxiu, 2013. "Abortion before & after Roe," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 804-815.
    12. Joshua D. Angrist & William N. Evans, 1996. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of the 1970 State Abortion Reforms," NBER Working Papers 5406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Kearney, Melissa S. & Levine, Phillip B., 2015. "Investigating recent trends in the U.S. teen birth rate," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 15-29.
    14. Matsushita, Raul & Baldo, Dinorá & Martin, Bruna & Da Silva, Sergio, 2007. "The biological basis of expected utility anomalies," MPRA Paper 4520, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Cook, Philip J. & Parnell, Allan M. & Moore, Michael J. & Pagnini, Deanna, 1999. "The effects of short-term variation in abortion funding on pregnancy outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 241-257, April.
    16. David Bloom & David Canning & Günther Fink & Jocelyn Finlay, 2009. "Fertility, female labor force participation, and the demographic dividend," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 79-101, June.
    17. Edlund, Lena Cecilia & Machado, Cecilia, 2009. "Marriage and Emancipation in The Age of The Pill," CEPR Discussion Papers 7485, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    18. Sen, Bisakha & Wingate, Martha Slay & Kirby, Russell, 2012. "The relationship between state abortion-restrictions and homicide deaths among children under 5 years of age: A longitudinal study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 156-164.
    19. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2011. "Divorce laws and fertility decisions," MPRA Paper 30243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Todd D. Kendall & Robert Tamura, 2010. "Unmarried Fertility, Crime, and Social Stigma," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(1), pages 185-221, February.
    21. Guldi, Melanie, 2016. "Title IX and the education of teen mothers," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 103-116.
    22. Gabriel Chequer Hartung & Samuel Pessoa, 2007. "Fatores Demográficos Como Determinantes Da Criminalidade," Anais do XXXV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 35th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 112, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    23. Zavodny, Madeline & Bitler, Marianne P., 2010. "The effect of Medicaid eligibility expansions on fertility," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(5), pages 918-924, September.
    24. O’Flaherty, Brendan & Sethi, Rajiv, 2015. "Urban Crime," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    25. Jonathan Klick & Sven Neelsen & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "The Effect of Abortion Liberalization on Sexual Behavior: International Evidence," ifo Working Paper Series 79, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General

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