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The Impact of Social Policy and Economic Activity Throughout the Fertility Decision Tree

  • Phillip B. Levine

This paper considers the impact of changes in abortion and welfare policies along with economic conditions over the 1985 to 1996 period at each stage of the fertility decision tree, including sexual activity, contraception, pregnancy, abortion, and birth. Examining the impact of policy at each stage of the decision tree represents a useful approach because consistent findings provide stronger evidence of a causal link than focusing on just one stage. The abortion policies considered are parental involvement laws and mandatory waiting periods; welfare policies include benefit generosity as well as state-level welfare waivers as a whole and the 'family cap.' State-level data over this period are used to examine abortion, birth, and pregnancy outcomes, while microdata from the 1988 and 1995 National Surveys of Family Growth are employed to examine sexual activity and contraception. For those policies that target certain subgroups of the population, estimates are provided separately for each group and compared to help further identify causality. I find that parental involvement laws increase contraception use among minors, leading to fewer pregnancies and, therefore, fewer abortions; teen births do not rise in response. Evidence regarding welfare policies does not consistently support any impact throughout the decision tree.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9021.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9021.

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Date of creation: Jun 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9021
Note: HE LS PE
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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.
  2. Ann E. Horvath-Rose & H. Elizabeth Peters, 2000. "Welfare Waivers and Non-Marital Childbearing," JCPR Working Papers 128, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  3. Kane, Thomas J & Staiger, Douglas, 1996. "Teen Motherhood and Abortion Access," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 467-506, May.
  4. Deborah Haas-Wilson, 1993. "The economic impact of state restrictions on abortion: Parental consent and notification laws and medicaid funding restrictions," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(3), pages 498-511.
  5. Theodore Joyce & Robert Kaestner, 1995. "State Reproductive Policies and Adolescent Pregnancy Resolution: The Case of Parental Involvement Laws," NBER Working Papers 5354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Phillip B. Levine & Douglas Staiger, 2002. "Abortion as Insurance," NBER Working Papers 8813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Matthews, S. & Ribar, D. & Wilhelm, M., 1995. "The Effects of Economic Conditions and Access to Reproductive Health Services on State Abortion and Birth Rates," Papers 7-95-4, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  8. Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2004. "Is There an Effect of Incremental Welfare Benefits on Fertility Behavior?: A Look at the Family Cap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
  9. 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.
  10. Phillip B. Levine, 2001. "The Sexual Activity and Birth-Control Use of American Teenagers," NBER Chapters, in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 167-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Rebecca M. Blank & Christine C. George & Rebecca A. London, 1994. "State Abortion Rates: The Impact of Policies, Providers, Politics, Demographics, and Economic Environment," NBER Working Papers 4853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Butz, William P & Ward, Michael P, 1979. "The Emergence of Countercyclical U.S. Fertility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(3), pages 318-28, June.
  13. Robert L. Ohsfeldt & Stephan F. Gohmann, 1994. "Do Parental Involvement Laws Reduce Adolescent Abortion Rates?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 12(2), pages 65-76, 04.
  14. Janet Currie & Lucia Nixon & Nancy Cole, 1993. "Restrictions on Medicaid Funding of Abortion: Effects on Pregnancy Resolutions and Birth Weight," NBER Working Papers 4432, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Deborah Haas-Wilson, 1996. "The Impact of State Abortion Restrictions on Minors' Demand for Abortions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(1), pages 140-158.
  16. Levine, P.B. & Trainor, A.B. & Zimmerman, D.J., 1995. "The Effect of Medicaid Abortion Funding Restrictions on Abortions, Pregnancies, Birth," Papers 95-08, Wellesley College - Department of Economics.
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