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Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the "Marginal Child"?

Jonathan Gruber, Phillip Levine and Doug Staiger ()

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 1999, vol. 114, issue 1, 263-291

Abstract: We examine the impact of increased abortion availability on the average living standards of children through a selection effect. Would the marginal child who was not born have grown up in different circumstances than the average child? We use variation in the timing of abortion legalization across states to answer this question. Cohorts born after legalized abortion experienced a significant reduction in a number of adverse outcomes. We find that the marginal child would have been 40–60 percent more likely to live in a single-parent family, to live in poverty, to receive welfare, and to die as an infant.

Date: 1999
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The Quarterly Journal of Economics is currently edited by Robert J. Barro, Lawrence F. Katz, Nathan Nunn, Andrei Shleifer and Stefanie Stantcheva

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