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Contraception, Abortion, and Fertility Rates

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM (PST)

Marriott Marquis, Santa Rosa
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Martha J. Bailey, University of Michigan

The Demographic Effects of Dodging the Vietnam Draft

Martha J. Bailey
,
University of Michigan
Eric Chyn
,
Dartmouth College

Abstract

This paper quantifies the impact of the Vietnam War on fertility rates in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Among draft-eligible men wishing to avoid military service, the hardship deferment (III-A) for paternity created a powerful incentive to father a child. In 1969, men held over 4 million hardship deferments—more than twice the number of education deferments (II-S). New time series suggest that the risk of being drafted and the availability of the paternity deferment increased U.S. fertility rates significantly, especially among childless women likely to be partnered with draft-eligible men. Fertility rates plummeted after President Nixon’s elimination of the “paternity deferment” in 1970—a policy change that had particularly large effects in states like California and New York where abortion was legalized the same year. These results suggest caution in attributing declines in fertility rates in the early 1970s, as well as improvements in the circumstances and behaviors of the “marginal child,” to the legalization of abortion.

The Economic Consequences of Being Denied an Abortion

Sarah Miller
,
University of Michigan
Laura Wherry
,
University of California-Los Angeles
Diana Foster
,
University of California-San Francisco

Abstract

Restrictions on abortion are pervasive, yet relatively little is known about the effect of being denied an abortion on women who seek one while pregnant. This paper evaluates the financial and economic consequences of being denied an abortion on the basis of gestational age of the pregnancy. Our analysis relies on new linkages to administrative data on ten years of credit reports using participants in the Turnaway Study. This study recruited women seeking abortion at 30 health providers located in 21 states. These women fell in to one of two groups: the first group was up to two weeks under the facility’s gestational age limit and received the abortion they sought (Near Limit Abortion Group), while the second group was up to three weeks over the facility’s gestational age limit and were turned away without receiving an abortion (Turnaway Group). Our analysis compares changes over time in credit report outcomes across these two groups for 3 years prior and up to 5 years following the intended abortion. We find that being denied an abortion has large and persistent effects on financial distress that are sustained for 5 years following the intended abortion.

Legal Access to Reproductive Control Technology, Women’s Education, and Earnings Approaching Retirement

Jason M. Lindo
,
Texas A&M University

Abstract

We leverage the staggered expansion of legal access to the birth control and abortion throughout the 1960s and 1970s, combined with data from the Health and Retirement Study, to estimate the effects of on women’s educational attainment and their earnings through their 50s. The results for educational attainment align with prior work but are not statistically significant, except for blacks. The results for earnings indicate increases in the probability of working in a Social-Security-covered job in women’s 20s and 30s associated with early legal access to contraception and abortion, but we find no evidence of positive effects on women’s earnings in their 50s.

Local Economic Conditions and Fertility from the Great Depression Through the Great Recession

Jessamyn Schaller
,
Claremont McKenna College
Price Fishback
,
University of Arizona
Kelli Marquardt
,
University of Arizona

Abstract

In this paper we use data on county-level birthrates in the continental United States that spans nearly eight decades to generate new estimates of the short-run association between local economic conditions and birth rates. Our dataset—the longest US panel dataset ever used to study fertility—allows us to estimate the response of fertility to economic shocks using local variation in economic conditions resulting from as many as thirteen aggregate US recessions. In addition to using standard panel data methods, we examine changes in the cyclicality of fertility over time using a rolling 30-year sample window. We confirm previous findings of procyclical US fertility, finding that improvements in local income are associated with increases in birth rates not only for our full sample period but for every possible thirty-year subsample in our data. However, we find that the cyclicality of fertility varied substantially over the past 80 years, peaking in 1960-1990 period and declining thereafter. Taking advantage of our long sample period, we additionally estimate mid-run dynamic responses to economic shocks over a 10-year period. Dynamic estimation reveals that birth rates are in fact elevated for four to six years following a positive economic shock.
Discussant(s)
Analisa Packham
,
Vanderbilt University
David Slusky
,
University of Kansas
Melanie Guldi
,
University of Central Florida
Kasey Buckles
,
University of Notre Dame
JEL Classifications
  • J1 - Demographic Economics