Population Research and Policy Review 17: 539–549, 1998.
© 1998 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Estimates of the abortion demand of young and older teenagers
MARSHALL H. MEDOFF
California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, California, USA
Abstract. This study estimates the demand for abortion by younger (ages 15–17) and older
(ages 18–19) teenagers. The empirical results show, for both age groups, abortion demand is
price inelastic and a normal good with respect to income. Teenage abortion demand is also
found to be positively related to labor force participation and state Medicaid funding and
negatively related to religiosity and unemployment. State family planning programs, AFDC
beneﬁts, and parental involvement laws are found not to be signiﬁcant determinants of teenage
Keywords: Teenage, Abortion, Demand, Estimates
Teenage abortion is a major social and political issue in the United States.
Every year more than a million girls under the age of twenty become preg-
nant. Approximately 82 percent of these pregnancies are unintended and about
42 percent of these end in abortion. Concern over this issue has resulted in a
growing debate in Congress as to whether the government needs to do more
about this problem.
Prior research on teenage abortion examined panel data using a probit or
logit procedure. These studies tended to focus on the effects of individual
social and demographic correlates. Abortion is more likely to be selected
by teenagers with highly educated parents (Cooksey 1990). A teenager is
more likely to choose abortion the greater their income or the lower their
level of religiosity (King et al. 1992). High school enrollment and labor force
participation increases teenage abortion demand (Leibowitz et al. 1986). State
family planning, abortion, and welfare policies are signiﬁcant determinants of
teenage abortion demand (Lundberg & Plotnick 1995).
These studies have several common methodological limitations. First, they
all analyze data between 1972 and 1986 because of the unavailability of more
current data. Second, they all focus on personal and family background vari-
ables rather than economic cost or ﬁnancial incentive variables. Finally, the
use of panel data precludes these studies from analyzing the impact many
important policy variables have on teenage abortion.