The impact of a restrictive abortion policy on infants’ health and on socioeconomic outcomes of children and parents

From January 1, 1974, new abortion rules were introduced in Hungary that restricted the access to legally permissible abortions. The law change had dramatic impacts immediately: the number of induced abortions decreased by 70 000, and the number of live births increased by 30 000 between 1973 and 1974.

In this research, we analyze the impacts of the law change on the children the parents affected by the new law. Specifically, we examine how the health of the newborns, the educational, labor and social outcomes of the children changed in the medium-run and in the long-run after the law came into effect. We also analyze whether the law change had impacts on the educational opportunities and on the social outcomes of the parents in the long-run. The projects will make use of large administrative datasets of the Hungarian Central Statistical Office: the registry of live births, the registry of induced abortions, the registry of infant mortality and the Hungarian Population Censuses (1990, 2001, 2011). We will compare children (and/or their parents) born just before and after the law change. Whit this strategy we are able to isolate the effect of the law change from effects of other factors (e.g. other time trends).

Beside the scientific relevance, our results would be relevant from a policy point of view. Since abortion policy is an emerging issue in public debates in many countries, our results could provide important information for an evidence-based policy.

Participant researcher: Tamás Hajdu