Abortion Costs, Separation, and Non-marital Childbearing

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How do abortion costs affect non-marital childbearing? While greater access to abortion has the first-order effect of reducing childbearing among pregnant women, it could nonetheless lead to unintended consequences through effects on marriage market norms. Single motherhood could rise if low-cost abortion makes it easier for men to avoid marriage. This study estimated the effect of abortion costs on separation, cohabitation and marriage following a birth by exploiting miscarriage and changes in state abortion laws. There is evidence that norms responded to abortion laws as women who gave birth under abortion restrictions experienced sizable decreases in single motherhood and increased cohabitation rates. The results underscore the importance of norms regulating relationship dynamics in explaining high levels of non-maritalchildbearing and single motherhood.



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