The Long-Term Impact of Restricted Access to Abortion on Children’s Socioeconomic Outcomes

Gábor Hajdu , Institute for Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences
Tamás Hajdu, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies

We examine the consequences of the restrictive Hungarian abortion policy introduced in 1974. Following the law change that restricted the access to legally permissible abortions the number of abortions decreased from 169,650 to 102,022, whereas the number of live births increased from 156,224 to 186,288 between 1973 and 1974. We analyze the long-term effects of the restrictive abortion policy on the affected children’s socioeconomic outcomes (educational attainment, labor market participation, teen fertility). We use matched large-scale, individual-level administrative datasets of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office (Population census 2011; live birth register), and we estimate the effects by comparing children born within a short timespan around the law change. In this way, we are able to rule out the effect of (unobserved) time trends and other potential behavioral responses to the law change, and we can draw causal inference. In addition, using socio-economic background variables of the parents at the time of the birth, we can control for a composition effect as well. We apply a difference-in-differences approach building on the special rules of the new law that made abortion permissible to selected groups of women. We find that the law change had a negative impact on the socioeconomic outcomes of the affected children. Children born after the law change have worse educational outcomes (e.g. a lower probability of finishing university), are more likely to be unemployed at age 37 and have a higher probability of being a teen parent.

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 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session Migration, Economics, Environment, Methods, History and Policy