Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Abortion Costs and Single Parenthood: A Life-Cycle Model of Fertility and Partnership

I construct and estimate a life-cycle model of fertility and partnership behavior to examine the relationship between abortion restrictions and single parenthood. In addition to the direct effects of abortion policy on abortion decisions and sexual behavior, the model nests two channels relating abortion policy to partnership that have been discussed in the literature. First, upon becoming pregnant, a woman may realize information about the father’s commitment to a relationship. A change in abortion policy impacts the number of women who become pregnant and realize such information. Second, abortion policy impacts competition in the market for partners. In a model of dynamic partnership transitions and fertility decisions, these mechanisms may have immediate effects on behavior and outcomes as well as effects that manifest over time. The estimated model is used to simulate the impacts of removing three types of abortion restrictions: Medicaid-funding restrictions, mandatory delay and counseling laws, and parental consent laws. I find that removing Medicaid-funding restrictions and parental consent laws results in a decrease in unwed motherhood by causing some pregnant women to switch from giving birth to aborting, while having small impacts on the availability of partners. In contrast, the removal of mandatory counseling and delay laws slightly increases unwed motherhood by having a relatively larger impact on the relationship between sexual activity and partnership alternatives.