The Effect of Abortion Legalization on the Incidence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 02-11

29 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2002  

Thomas Stratmann

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

Jonathan Klick

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

Date Written: April 4, 2002

Abstract

The risk of an unwanted pregnancy represents one of the major costs of sexual activity. When abortion was legalized in a number of states during the late 1960s and early 1970s (and nationally with the 1973 Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade), this cost was reduced as women gained the option of terminating an unwanted pregnancy. We predict that abortion legalization led to an increase in sexual activity, accompanied by an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. Using CDC data on the incidence of gonorrhea and syphilis by state, we test the hypothesis that judicial and legislative decisions to legalize abortion lead to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. We find that gonorrhea and syphilis incidences are significantly and positively correlated with abortion legalization. According to our estimates, abortion legalization might account for as much as one third of the average disease incidence.

Suggested Citation

Stratmann, Thomas and Klick, Jonathan, The Effect of Abortion Legalization on the Incidence of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (April 4, 2002). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 02-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=306340 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.306340

Thomas Stratmann (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-2330 (Phone)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Jonathan Klick

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
2157463455 (Phone)

Erasmus School of Law ( email )

3000 DR Rotterdam
Netherlands

PERC - Property and Environment Research Center

2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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