This paper considers how oral contraception's diffusion to young unmarried women affected the number and parental characteristics of children born to these women. In the short-term, pill access caused declines in fertility and increases in both the share of children born with low birthweight and the share born to poor households. In the long-term, access led to negligible changes in fertility while increasing the share of children with college-educated mothers and decreasing the share with divorced mothers. The short-term effects appear to be driven by upwardly-mobile women opting out of early childbearing while the long-term effects appear to be driven by a retiming of births to later ages. These effects differ from those of abortion legalization, although we find suggestive evidence that pill diffusion lowered abortions. Our results suggest that abortion and the pill are on average used for different purposes by different women, but on the margin some women substitute from abortion towards the pill when both are available. JELNo. I0, J13, N12.
A striking negative correlation exists between an area's residential racial segregation and its population characteristics, but it is recognized that this relationship may not be causal. I present a novel test of causality from segregation to population characteristics by exploiting the arrangements of railroad tracks in the nineteenth century to isolate plausibly exogenous variation in areas' susceptibility to segregation. I show that this variation satisfies the requirements for a valid instrument. Instrumental variables estimates demonstrate that segregation increases metropolitan rates of black poverty and overall black-white income disparities, while decreasing rates of white poverty and inequality within the white population.
The impact of segregation on Black political efficacy is theoretically ambiguous. On one hand, increased contact among Blacks in more segregated areas may mean that Blacks are better able to coordinate political behavior. On the other hand, lesser contact with non-Blacks may mean that Blacks have less political influence over voters of other races. As for non-Blacks, inter-group conflict theory suggests that greater contact yields greater conflict between the groups while inter-group contact theory suggests exactly the reverse. We investigate this question empirically. We find that exogenous increases in segregation lead to decreases in Black civic efficacy, as measured by an ability to elect Representatives who vote liberally and more specifically in favor of legislation that is favored by Blacks. This tendency for Representatives from more segregated MSAs to vote more conservatively arises in spite of the fact that Blacks in more segregated areas hold more liberal political views than do Blacks in less segregated locales. We find evidence that this decrease in efficacy is driven by more conservative attitudes amongst non-Blacks in more segregated areas. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Abortion legalization in the early 1970s led to dramatic changes in fertility. Some research has suggested that it altered cohort outcomes, but this literature has been limited and controversial. In this paper, we provide a framework for understanding selection mechanisms and use that framework to both address inconsistent past methodological approaches and provide evidence on the long-run impact on cohort characteristics. Our results indicate that lower-cost abortion brought about by legalization altered young adult outcomes through selection. In particular, it increased likelihood of college graduation, lower rates of welfare use, and lower odds of being a single parent. © 2009 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Having a female first-born child significantly increases the probability that a woman's first marriage breaks up. Using this exogenous variation, recent work finds that divorce has little effect on women's mean household income. We further investigate the effect of divorce using Quantile Treatment Effect methodology and find that it increases women's odds of having very high or very low income. In other words, while some women successfully compensate for lost spousal earnings through child support, welfare, combining households, and increasing labor supply, others are markedly unsuccessful. We conclude that by raising both poverty and inequality, divorce has important welfare consequences. © 2008 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.
The early-1970s abortion legalization led to a significant drop in fertility. We investigate whether this decline represented a delay in births or a permanent reduction in fertility. We combine Census and Vital Statistics data to compare the lifetime fertility of women born in early-legalizing states, whose peak childbearing years occurred in the early 1970s, to that of women from other states and cohorts. We find that much of the reduction was permanent, in that women did not compensate by having more children later, and that it largely reflects an increased share of women remaining childless throughout their fertile years. © 2007 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.