Abortion and Selection

55 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2006 Last revised: 14 Sep 2010

See all articles by Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat

Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat

Duke University - Sanford School of Public Policy; Duke University - Department of Economics

Jonathan Gruber

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Phillip B. Levine

Wellesley College; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Douglas Staiger

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2006

Abstract

The introduction of legalized abortion in the early 1970s led to dramatic changes in fertility behavior. Some research has suggested as well that there were important impacts on cohort outcomes, but this literature has been limited and controversial. In this paper, we provide a framework for understanding the mechanisms through which abortion access affects cohort outcomes, and use that framework to both address inconsistent past methodological approaches, and provide evidence on the long-run impact on cohort characteristics. Our results provide convincing evidence that abortion legalization altered young adult outcomes through selection. In particular, we find evidence that lower costs of abortion led to improved outcomes in the birth cohort in the form of an increased likelihood of college graduation, lower rates of welfare use, and lower odds of being a single parent. We also find that our empirical innovations do not substantially alter earlier results regarding the relationship between abortion and crime, although most of that relationship appears to reflect cohort size effects rather than selection.

Suggested Citation

Ananat, Elizabeth Oltmans and Gruber, Jonathan and Levine, Phillip B. and Staiger, Douglas, Abortion and Selection (April 2006). NBER Working Paper No. w12150. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=896222

Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat

Duke University - Sanford School of Public Policy ( email )

201 Science Drive
Box 90312
Durham, NC 27708-0239
United States

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Jonathan Gruber (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-355
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-8892 (Phone)
617-253-1330 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://web.mit.edu/gruberj/www/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Phillip B. Levine

Wellesley College ( email )

106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02181
United States
781-283-2162 (Phone)
781-283-2177 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Douglas Staiger

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-643-2979 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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