The Effect of Abortion Legalization on Teenage Out-Of-Wedlock Childbearing in Future Cohorts
In this paper we examine the long-term impact of legalized abortion on teenage out-of-wedlock childbearing in the United States using the birth data from the Vital Statistics of the U. S. Our fundamental argument is analogous to Donahue and Levitt’s (2001): by decreasing the number of unwanted children, legalized abortion had potentially a negative impact on the likelihood of the teenage out-of-wedlock childbearing for the cohorts affected by the legalization. Our preliminary findings indicate that for African-Americans, both 1970 legalization in repeal states and Roe vs. Wade had a long-term impact on out-of-wedlock teenage childbearing so that the cohorts exposed to legalized abortion were less likely to give birth out-of-wedlock as teenagers. For Whites, even though we do not find evidence regarding the impact of the 1970 legalization, our findings suggest that cohorts affected by Roe vs. Wade were less likely to give birth out-of-wedlock as teenagers. Our results support Donahue and Levitt’s findings regarding the crime by showing the importance of selected abortion for the cohorts who were born after abortion was legalized and suggest a different avenue for obtaining a complete understanding of the observed decline in out-of-wedlock teenage childbearing in 1990’s.
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