The Future of Roe and the Gender Pay Gap: An Empirical Assessment

51 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2022 Last revised: 27 Jul 2022

See all articles by Itay Ravid

Itay Ravid

Villanova University - Charles Widger School of Law

Jonathan Zandberg

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: March 2, 2022

Abstract

In Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court has upheld a Mississippi law that prohibits nearly all abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy and has overruled the holding in Roe v. Wade. Among the many arguments raised in Dobbs in an attempt to overturn Roe, the State of Mississippi argues that due to “the march of progress” in women’s role in society, abortion rights are no longer necessary for women to participate equally in economic life. It has also been argued that there is no empirical support to the causal relationship between abortion rights and women’s economic success in society.

This Article is the first to empirically examine both these arguments, and it provides compelling evidence to reject each of them. To do so, we adopt a novel methodology that utilizes the enforcement of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP Laws) as proxies for abortion restrictions. We study the effects of over forty years of legislation on the participation of American women in the labor market.

The results are striking. Our findings strongly and consistently show that the introduction of TRAP laws has widened the gender pay gap between women of childbearing age and the rest of the population. Our analysis offers two potential explanations regarding the mechanisms based on which TRAP laws widen this gap: they push women out of the labor force and into choosing lower-paying jobs. Ultimately, these findings foreshadow the future landscape of gender inequality in the United States in the post-Roe era.


Keywords: Reproductive Care, Gender Inequality, Empirical Legal Studies

JEL Classification: D71, I14, J13, J23, L26

Suggested Citation

Ravid, Itay and Zandberg, Jonathan, The Future of Roe and the Gender Pay Gap: An Empirical Assessment (March 2, 2022). 98 Indiana L. J. ___ (forthcoming, 2023), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4048004 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4048004

Itay Ravid (Contact Author)

Villanova University - Charles Widger School of Law ( email )

299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
United States

Jonathan Zandberg

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania ( email )

The Wharton School
3620 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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