State Abortion Rates: The Impact of Policies, Providers, Politics, Demographics, and Economic Environment

Rebecca M. Blank, Christine C. George, Rebecca A. London

NBER Working Paper No. 4853
Issued in September 1994
NBER Program(s):   HE   LS

This paper uses data on abortion rates from 1974-88, to estimate two-stage least squares models with fixed state and year effects. The results indicate that implementing restrictions on Medicaid funding for abortion results in lower aggregate abortion rates in-state and higher abortion rates among nearby states, suggesting one of the main effects of these policies is to induce cross-state migration for abortion services. The effect of these restrictions on actual abortions among state residents is much smaller; a maximal estimate suggests that 22 percent of the abortions among low-income women that are publicly funded do not take place after funding is eliminated. We also have substantial evidence that a larger number of abortion providers in a state increases the abortion rate within the state, primarily through inducing cross-state migration, with nonhospital providers being particularly important. Political affiliation variables have mixed effects and are difficult to interpret. Controlling for state fixed effects, the effect of changes in demographic and economic variables over time is typically small, although a rise in unemployment has consistently positive effects on abortion rates.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w4853

Published: Journal of Health Economics, Vol.15, pp.513-553, 1996. citation courtesy of

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