The Effect of Abortion Liberalization on Sexual Behavior: International Evidence

29 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2009 Last revised: 5 Nov 2013

See all articles by Jonathan Klick

Jonathan Klick

University of Pennsylvania Law School; Erasmus School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

Sven Neelsen

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Thomas Stratmann

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy; George Mason University - Mercatus Center; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: July 15, 2009

Abstract

Most industrialized countries have increased access to abortion over the past 30 years. Economic theory predicts that abortion laws affect sexual behavior since they change the marginal cost of having risky sex. We use gonorrhea incidence as a metric of risky sexual behavior. Using a panel of 41 North American, European and Central Asian countries over the period 1980-2000, we estimate the impact of abortion law reform on risky sex. Compared to the most restrictive legislation that permits abortion only to save the pregnant woman’s life or her physical health, more liberal abortion laws are associated with at least thirty additional gonorrhea cases per 100,000 individuals. The marginal effect of laws which make abortion available on request is larger than the effect of laws which allow abortion on socioeconomic and mental health grounds. Our results are robust against a set of alternative sample constructions and model specifications.

Keywords: abortion, sex, STD, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy

JEL Classification: I12, I18, J13, K00, K32, Z13

Suggested Citation

Klick, Jonathan and Neelsen, Sven and Stratmann, Thomas, The Effect of Abortion Liberalization on Sexual Behavior: International Evidence (July 15, 2009). U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 09-23, U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 09-20, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1434600 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1434600

Jonathan Klick (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

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Erasmus School of Law ( email )

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PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

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Sven Neelsen

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research) ( email )

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Thomas Stratmann

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy ( email )

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George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.mercatus.org/scholars/thomas-stratmann

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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