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The Effect of Abortion Liberalization on Sexual Behavior: International Evidence

Jonathan Klick (), Sven Neelsen () and Thomas Stratmann ()

No 79, ifo Working Paper Series from ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich

Abstract: Most industrialized countries have increased access to abortion over the past 30 years. Economic theory predicts that abortion laws affect sexual behavior since they change the marginal cost of having risky sex. We use gonorrhea incidence as a metric of risky sexual behavior. Using a panel of 41 North American, European and Central Asian countries over the period 1980-2000, we estimate the impact of abortion law reform on risky sex. Compared to the most restrictive legislation that permits abortion only to save the pregnant woman’s life or her physical health, more liberal abortion laws are associated with at least thirty additional gonorrhea cases per 100,000 individuals. The marginal effect of laws which make abortion available on request is larger than the effect of laws which allow abortion on socioeconomic and mental health grounds. Our results are robust against a set of alternative sample constructions and model specifications.

Keywords: Gonorrhea; pregnancy; sexually transmitted diseases; abortion laws. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 I18 J13 K00 K32 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009
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