Abortion Legalization and Adolescent Substance Use

Article, Preprint OPEN
Kerwin Kofi Charles ; Melvin Stephens Jr. (2002)
  • Journal: Journal of Law and Economics, volume 49, issue 2 October, pages 481-505
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1086/508249
  • Subject:
    • jel: jel:J13 | jel:I12
    mesheuropmc: reproductive and urinary physiology | humanities | health care economics and organizations

We assess whether in utero exposure to legalized abortion in the early 1970's affected individuals' propensities to use controlled substances as adolescents. We exploit the fact that some states legalized abortion before national legalization in 1973 to compare differences in substance use for adolescents across birth cohorts in different states. We find that persons exposed to early legalization were, on average, much less likely to use controlled substances. We also assess how substance use varies with state level birth rates and abortion ratios. Overall, our results suggest that legalization lowered substance use because of the selective use of abortion by relatively disadvantaged women.
  • References (1)

    Angrist, Joshua D. and William Evans, 1999, “Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of the 1970 State Abortion Reforms,” in Polachek, Solomon W., ed. Research in Labor Economics, Volume 18 75-113, 75-113.

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