The Consequences of Abortion and Contraception Policies on Young Women's Reproductive Choices, Schooling and Labor Supply
Demography, Population, and Ecology
Maternal and Child Health
Medicine and Health Sciences
Social and Behavioral Sciences
In this paper, I evaluate the effects of regulations that limit the availability of abortion services, as well as the impact of policies that subsidize contraception, on abortion and contraceptive choices of young women and on their life-cycle fertility, schooling and labor supply. I specify and structurally estimate a dynamic life-cycle model of abortion, contraceptive use, schooling and labor supply decisions using data from the NLSY97 combined with aggregate abortion provider data from the Guttmacher Institute. Variation across time and space in state-specific regulations and in the availability of abortion providers at the county level provides a valuable source of identification for the model parameters. My estimation approach allows for underreporting of abortions by NLSY respondents. Policy simulations show that restrictions on abortions increase contraceptive use, which moderates the effect of abortion restrictions on birth rates. Eliminating access to abortion services has significant effects on women's schooling and lifetime earnings. The average effect of restricting access to abortion on lifetime welfare is small, but there is substantial heterogeneity in welfare losses across women. As an alternative to abortion restrictions, I find that providing free contraception would increase contraceptive use and decrease abortion rates substantially.