Birthing a Nation: The Effect of Fertility Control Access on the Nineteenth-Century Demographic Transition Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • During the nineteenth century, the U.S. birthrate fell by half. While previous economic literature has emphasized demand-side explanations for this decline, many of these arguments are confounded by changes in the supply of technologies to control fertility. I exploit the introduction of state laws governing American women's access to abortion to measure the effect of changes in the supply of fertility technologies on the number of children born. I estimate an increase in the birthrate of 4 to 15 percent when abortion is restricted. I also explore the legal characteristics and political economy of these laws.
  • During the nineteenth century, the U.S. birthrate fell by half. While previous economic literature has emphasized demand-side explanations for this decline, many of these arguments are confounded by changes in the supply of technologies to control fertility. I exploit the introduction of state laws governing American women's access to abortion to measure the effect of changes in the supply of fertility technologies on the number of children born. I estimate an increase in the birthrate of 4 to 15 percent when abortion is restricted. I also explore the legal characteristics and political economy of these laws. © 2014 The Economic History Association.

published proceedings

  • The Journal of Economic History

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Lahey, J. N

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Lahey, Joanna N

publication date

  • May 2014