Measuring the Burden: The Effect of Travel Distance on Abortions and Births

32 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2021

See all articles by Caitlin Knowles Myers

Caitlin Knowles Myers

Middlebury College; IZA Institute of Labor Economics


I compile and disseminate novel panel data sets measuring county-level travel distances to abortion facilities and resident abortion rates. Using these data and exploiting temporal and spatial variation in distances, I implement difference-in-difference research designs measuring the causal effects of distance to the nearest abortion facility. The results indicate large and non-linear effect: An increase in travel distance from 0 to 100 miles—a level that courts have generally treated as not unduly burdensome for women seeking abortions—is estimated to prevent 20.5% of women seeking an abortion from reaching a provider, and in turn to increase births by 2.4%.

JEL Classification: I11, I12, J13

Suggested Citation

Myers, Caitlin Knowles, Measuring the Burden: The Effect of Travel Distance on Abortions and Births. IZA Discussion Paper No. 14556, Available at SSRN: or

Caitlin Knowles Myers (Contact Author)

Middlebury College ( email )

Middlebury, VT 05753

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

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