Knowing or Approving?: Abortion Laws and Teen Sexual Behavior


Currently, 37 states in the US have parental involvement in abortion laws. Previous research on risky sexual behavior has lumped the two types of parental involvement laws (notification and consent) into one treatment variable with mixed findings. This study separates them to estimate the effect of each law on risky sexual behavior among teens using data from the 2001-2015 Youth Risky Behavior Surveillance Survey. Counter to the theory that the more burdensome law would have a larger impact on minors’ behavior, notification laws have a larger impact on sexual activity, an effect that increases over time, though there is no evidence of a significant impact on contraception use. Consent laws have impacts opposite of the hypothesized direction on both recent sexual activity and contraception use. Given that each law is enacted individually, knowing the impact of each policy may shape future legislation.

Pamela Meyerhofer
Pamela Meyerhofer

I am an Economist at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). My research is centered on how women make decisions about work and family and how policy impacts these decisions. My work lies at the intersection of labor economics, health economics, family demography, and policy.