Cornell University

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Joint Labor, PAM, & CPC Workshop: Marianne Wanamaker

Monday, April 29, 2019 at 11:40am to 1:10pm

Ives Hall, 115
B07 Tower Rd, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Marianne Wanamaker, Associate Professor.
 University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Cohort Effects of Restrictive Abortion Legislation --- Evidence from 19th Century Law Variation
Joanna N. Lahey, Marianne H. Wanamaker and Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat

Abstract: Standard models of fertility predict that lowering the cost of abortion will raise the average socioeconomic status of born children and improve the average long-run outcomes of birth cohorts. Empirical results from 1970’s abortion legalization in the United States largely confirm this prediction. We generalize a model of fertility to reflect conditions in less developed countries and highlight assumptions under which the standard model’s predictions can be overturned. In particular, high returns to child labor, budget constraints for low-income households, and high discount rates for lower socioeconomic status households can each overturn the standard prediction wherein easing abortion access raises average socioeconomic status of birth cohorts. Moreover, by incorporating cohort size effects in the prediction of long-run outcomes for marginal children, we show that the net effects of abortion legalization, which reflect both child selection and cohort size effects, are ambiguous. Our empirical analysis, focused on abortion restrictions in the 19th century U.S., demonstrates these points. Children born under more restrictive abortion access have higher socioeconomic status at birth than their peers. Nevertheless, larger cohorts induce additional mortality, particularly at younger ages.

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Event Type

Seminar, Class/ Workshop


Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell Population Center, Economics


EconSeminar, EconLabor, economics, isscal, EconPAM

Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Heather LaCombe

Contact Phone



Marianne Wanamaker, Associate Professor.

Speaker Affiliation

University of Tennessee, Knoxville