Economics PhD Student
UC Irvine, Department Economics
3151 Social Science Plaza, CA 92617
dladd [at] uci [dot] edu
Did parental involvement laws grow teeth? The effects of state restrictions on minors’ access to abortion
We compile data on the locations of abortion providers and enforcement of parental involvement laws to document dramatic increases in the distances minors must travel if they wish to obtain an abortion without involving a parent or judge: from 58 miles in 1992 to 454 in 2016. Using both double and triple-difference estimation strategies, we estimate the effects of parental involvement laws, allowing them to vary with the distances minors might travel to avoid them. Our results confirm previous findings that parental involvement laws did not increase teen births in the 1980s, and provide new evidence that in more recent decades they have increased teen birth by an average of 3 percent. The estimated effects are increasing in avoidance distance to the point that a confidential abortion is more than a day's drive away, and also are substantially larger in the poorest quartile of counties.