Giving Compass' Take:
- Economist Luigi Pistaferri, a professor at Stanford University, explores the economic consequences of limiting abortion rights and reversing legalization.
- How do the economic implications of abortion bans for communities of color? How will this decision impact inequality in the United States?
- Read about abortion access and opportunity gaps.
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The greatest burden of abortion restrictions will likely fall on low-income women and minorities, says economist Luigi Pistaferri.
Abortion is banned in at least 11 states—and more are about to prohibit or strictly limit the medical procedure soon.
Here, Pistaferri, professor at Stanford University, summarizes some of the large body of scholarship in his field that shows the economic consequences the legalization of abortion has had in the United States, and what that research reveals about a future where reproductive health choices are severely limited.
Research by his colleagues shows that restrictions will lead to lower educational attainment, which is associated with lower labor force participation, lower wages, and lower career prospects—ultimately leading, most likely, to an increase in inequality:
Q: Can you give a brief overview of the economic effects Roe v. Wade has had over the past 50 years?
Some researchers have estimated that the legalization of abortion that took place across US states during the 1970s (and eventually culminated in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision) led to an approximately 5 percentage point reduction in the aggregate birth rate. The reversal of Roe is unlikely to reverse the birthrate by as much, because of new medical technologies (abortion medication and birth control methods such as IUD) offering safer alternatives for reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancies.
Others have looked at economic outcomes for children born in the era when abortion was legal compared to those of children who would have been born only (or primarily) because of abortion restrictions or bans. They have concluded that the legalization of abortion led to significant improvements in the economic circumstances of children born into generations where abortion had been legalized. These children lived in households less likely to be headed by a single mother, less likely to have incomes below the poverty line or to be welfare recipient, and with lower infant mortality than children of nearby generations. These children were also more likely to complete college, and, as adults, experienced lower odds of being single parents or on welfare themselves.
Finally, several papers have studied the economic effect of legalizing abortion on women, especially focusing on the reduction in teen fertility and teen out-of-wedlock births. These papers show that the decline in teen fertility was particularly relevant for Black women, which led to greater investment in their human capital (schooling achievements) and better employment outcomes.
Some new research finds that women who were denied an abortion were more likely to experience financial distress later in life, mostly because they tended to have greater parental obligations with no corresponding increase in support from the government or a male partner.
Read the full article about economic costs of abortion by Melissa De Witte at Futurity.