Abortion Legalization and Life-Cycle Fertility



Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2007


The early-1970s abortion legalization led to a significant drop in fertility. We investigate whether this decline represented a delay in births or a permanent reduction in fertility. We combine Census and Vital Statistics data to compare the lifetime fertility of women born in early-legalizing states, whose peak childbearing years occurred in the early 1970s, to that of women from other states and cohorts. We find that much of the reduction was permanent, in that women did not compensate by having more children later, and that it largely reflects an increased share of women remaining childless throughout their fertile years.


Ananat, Elizabeth Oltmans, Jonathan Gruber, and Phillip B. Levine. "Abortion Legalization and Lifecycle Fertility." Journal of Human Resources. Vol. 42, No. 2 (Spring 2007). pp. 375-397.