Differential Fertility as a Determinant of Trends in Public Opinion about Abortion in the United States

35 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2014

See all articles by J. Kevern

J. Kevern

Northwestern University - Department of Sociology

Jeremy Freese

Northwestern University

Date Written: July 7, 2014

Abstract

Differential fertility is frequently overlooked as a meaningful force in longitudinal public opinion change. We examine the effect of fertility on abortion attitudes, a useful case study due to their strong correlation with family size and high parent-child correlation. We test the hypothesis that the comparatively high fertility of pro-life individuals has led to a more pro-life population using 34 years of GSS data (1977-2010). We find evidence that the abortion attitudes have lagged behind a liberalizing trend of other correlated attitudes, and consistent evidence that differential fertility between pro-life and pro-choice individuals has had a significant effect on this pattern. Future studies should account for differential fertility as a meaningful force of cohort replacement in studies of public opinion where parents and children are likely to share the same attitude.

Keywords: abortion, public opinion, attitude change, cohort replacement, fertility

Suggested Citation

Kevern, J. and Freese, Jeremy, Differential Fertility as a Determinant of Trends in Public Opinion about Abortion in the United States (July 7, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2463472 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2463472

J. Kevern

Northwestern University - Department of Sociology ( email )

1810 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Jeremy Freese (Contact Author)

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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