Do Parental Involvement Laws Deter Risky Teen Sex?
NBER Working Paper No. 18810
Parental involvement (PI) laws require that physicians notify or obtain consent from a parent(s) of a minor seeking an abortion before performing the procedure. Several studies suggest that PI laws curb risky sexual behavior because teens realize that they would be compelled to discuss a subsequent pregnancy with a parent. We show that prior evidence based on gonorrhea rates overlooked the frequent under-reporting of gonorrhea by race and ethnicity, and present new evidence on the effects of PI laws using more current data on the prevalence of gonorrhea and data that are novel to this literature (i.e., chlamydia rates and data disaggregated by year of age). We improve the credibility of our estimates over those in the existing literature using an event-study design in addition to standard difference-in-difference-in-differences (DDD) models. Our findings consistently suggest no association between PI laws and rates of sexually transmitted infections or measures of sexual behavior.
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