This article empirically assesses whether age-restricted access to abortion and the birth control pill influence minors’ fertility in the United States. There is not a strong consensus in previous literature regarding the relationship between laws restricting minors’ access to abortion and minors’ birthrates. This is the first study to recognize that state laws in place prior to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision enabled minors to legally consent to surgical treatment—including abortion—in some states but not in others, and to construct abortion access variables reflecting this. In this article, age-specific policy variables measure either a minor’s legal ability to obtain an abortion or to obtain the birth control pill without parental involvement. I find fairly strong evidence that young women’s birthrates dropped as a result of abortion access as well as evidence that birth control pill access led to a drop in birthrates among whites.
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I owe thanks to the editors of Demography and two anonymous referees as well as Martha Bailey, Elizabeth Cascio, Hilary Hoynes, Lisa Jepsen, Douglas L. Miller, Marianne Page, and Ann Stevens for insightful feedback on earlier drafts of this article. I am also grateful for the helpful comments from participants of the 2005 Western Economic Association International Conference, UC-Davis Brown Bag Seminar, and Sacramento State Brown Bag Seminar. Any remaining errors are my own.
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Guldi, M. Fertility effects of abortion and birth control pill access for minors. Demography 45, 817–827 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1353/dem.0.0026
- Oral Contraceptive
- Parental Involvement
- Policy Variable
- NBER Working Paper
- Birth Control Pill