Pregnancy Resolution as an Indicator of Wantedness and its Impact on the Initiation of Early Prenatal Care

Theodore J. Joyce, Michael Grossman

NBER Working Paper No. 2827 (Also Reprint No. r1386)
Issued in 1989
NBER Program(s):Health Economics

The study examines the impact of the wantedness of a pregnancy on the demand for early prenatal care. Past attempts to address this question have depended on the self-assessments of women as to the wantedness of their pregnancy and birth. Our approach can be described as a form of revealed preference in which only those pregnancies that are voluntarily terminated by induced abortion are considered to be unwanted. Using a cohort of pregnant women in New York City, we estimate a prenatal care demand function in which we control for the probability of giving birth, given a woman is pregnant. We interpret this control as a measure of wantedness. The results indicate that if the black and Hispanic women who aborted, had instead given birth, they would have delayed the initiation of prenatal care, on average, over three-quarters of a month longer than the mean number of months of delay that were actually observed for the women who gave birth. By allowing women to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, induced abortion increases the average utilization of prenatal care among black and Hispanic women relative to what would have been observed if the women who aborted had instead given birth.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2827

Published: "Pregnancy Wantedness and the Early Initiation of Prenatal Care." From Demography, Vol. 27, No. 1, pp. 1-17, (February 1990).

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