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Abortion Legalization and Adolescent Substance Use

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  • Kerwin Kofi Charles
  • Melvin Stephens Jr.

Abstract

We assess whether in utero exposure to legalized abortion in the early 1970's affected individuals' propensities to use controlled substances as adolescents. We exploit the fact that some states legalized abortion before national legalization in 1973 to compare differences in substance use for adolescents across birth cohorts in different states. We find that persons exposed to early legalization were, on average, much less likely to use controlled substances. We also assess how substance use varies with state level birth rates and abortion ratios. Overall, our results suggest that legalization lowered substance use because of the selective use of abortion by relatively disadvantaged women.

Suggested Citation

  • Kerwin Kofi Charles & Melvin Stephens Jr., 2002. "Abortion Legalization and Adolescent Substance Use," NBER Working Papers 9193, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9193
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    2. 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).
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    13. 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.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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