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Welfare generosity, pregnancies and abortions among unmarried AFDC recipients


Even before the 1996 overhaul of the U.S. welfare system, a number of states had ended the practice of paying extra benefits to families who have additional children while receiving welfare. Proponents believe that this reform can reduce births to recipients, however many worry that it may encourage women to obtain abortions. Using a sample of unmarried AFDC recipients from the NLSY, we estimate a bivariate probit model of pregnancy and, conditional on becoming pregnant, the probability of abortion. Our results lend some support for the proposition that reducing incremental AFDC benefits will decrease pregnancies without increasing abortions.

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Received: 16 April 1998/Accepted: 11 March 1999

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Argys, L., Averett, S. & Rees, D. Welfare generosity, pregnancies and abortions among unmarried AFDC recipients. J Popul Econ 13, 569–594 (2000).

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  • JEL classification: I38, J13
  • Key words: Welfare, abortion, fertility