The Effect of Abortion Legalization on Sexual Behavior: Evidence from Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Posted: 17 Nov 2003

See all articles by Jonathan Klick

Jonathan Klick

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

Thomas Stratmann

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

Abstract

Unwanted pregnancy represents a major cost of sexual activity. When abortion was legalized in a number of states in 1969 and 1970 (and nationally in 1973), this cost was reduced. We predict that abortion legalization generated incentives leading to an increase in sexual activity, accompanied by an increase in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Using Centers for Disease Control data on the incidence of gonorrhea and syphilis by state, we test the hypothesis that abortion legalization led to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases. We find that gonorrhea and syphilis incidences are significantly and positively correlated with abortion legalization. Further, we find a divergence in STD rates among early legalizing states and late legalizing states starting in 1970 and a subsequent convergence after the Roe v. Wade decision, indicating that the relation between STDs and abortion is causal. Abortion legalization accounts for about one-fourth of the average disease incidence.

Keywords: Abortion, Sex, Sexual Behavior, STD, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, Disease, Moral Hazard, Roe v. Wade

JEL Classification: D00, H51, I00, I12, I18, J13, J16, J18, K00, K32

Suggested Citation

Klick, Jonathan and Stratmann, Thomas, The Effect of Abortion Legalization on Sexual Behavior: Evidence from Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 32, p. 407, June 2003, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=453520

Jonathan Klick (Contact Author)

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

Thomas Stratmann

George Mason University - Buchanan Center Political Economy ( email )

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

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

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
3,333
PlumX Metrics