Job Market Paper

TRAP'd Teens: Impacts of abortion provider regulations on fertility & education (with Kelly M. Jones). IZA Discussion Paper No. 14837

Targeted regulations of abortion providers (TRAP laws) are the fastest-growing abortion restriction in the U.S. These often result in clinic closures, limiting abortion access. We study how women's exposure to these laws in adolescence affects their fertility and educational attainment. For this study, we codify the legal history of all TRAP laws ever implemented. We explore the impacts of TRAP laws on teen births using an event-study analysis and stacked differences-in-differences methodology to avoid issues of negative weighting inherent in two-way fixed effects approaches. Consistent with other evidence on abortion access, we find that impacts on births are large and robust for Black women. Black teen births in states that implemented TRAP laws increased by 3 percent relative to changes in states without these restrictions. We offer evidence that these impacts are driven by reductions in abortion access, abortion use, and contraception use among Black teens. We further document that adolescent exposure to TRAP laws has downstream impacts on education. We find that Black women first exposed to TRAP laws before age 18 are 1 to 3 percentage points less likely to initiate and complete college. This study documents the important role that abortion access plays in reducing the harmful economic impacts of unintended teen motherhood. The findings suggest that modern abortion restrictions are harming women's efforts at economic advancement and are perpetuating racial inequality. This work is particularly relevant given the current consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court of the state of Mississippi's plea to overturn Roe. A central argument in an amicus brief for Mississippi is that "there is no adequate credible evidence that women have enjoyed greater economic and social opportunities because of the availability of abortion" – this study provides direct evidence to the contrary.

Impacts of admitting privileges laws implementation on black teens birth rates



New Evidence on the Effects of Mandatory Waiting Periods for Abortion (with Jason Lindo), NBER Working Paper 26228, Journal of Health Economics, forthcoming

Beyond a handful of studies examining early-adopting states in the early 1990s, little is known about the causal effects of mandatory waiting periods for abortion. In this study, we evaluate the effects of a Tennessee law enacted in 2015 that requires women to make an additional trip to abortion providers for state-directed counseling at least 48 hours before they can obtain an abortion. Our difference-in-differences and synthetic-control estimates indicate that the introduction of the mandatory waiting period caused a 53–69 percent increase in the share of abortions obtained during the second trimester. Our analysis examining overall abortion rates is less conclusive but suggests a reduction caused by the waiting period. To put these estimates into context, we provide back-of-the-envelope calculations on the additional monetary costs that Tennessee’s MWP imposes on women seeking abortions.


Media coverage:

"Tennessee's abortion wait period law faces court arguments," 9/20/19, Associated Press (reprinted worldwide)

"Mandatory waiting periods can make abortions nearly $1,000 more expensive," 9/10/19, MarketWatch

Percent of abortions in the second trimester


Legal Access to Reproductive Control Technology, Women's Education, and Earnings Approaching Retirement Outcomes (with Jason Lindo, David Pritchard, and Hedieh Tajali), Papers and Proceedings 2020

We investigate how historical changes in contraception and abortion access impact women's long-run outcomes. We use data from the Health and Retirement Study and an identification strategy that leverages variation in exposure to legal changes in access across cohorts born in the same states during the 1960s and 1970s. Our results for educational attainment align with prior work but are not statistically significant. The results for earnings indicate increases in the probability of working in a Social Security(SS) covered job in women's 20s and 30s associated with early access to contraception and abortion, but we find no evidence of positive effects on women's earnings in their 50s.

Effects of The Pill and abortion access on working in an SS-covered job


Work in Progress