Something for the children

Kevin Lewis

December 22, 2019

The Other Costs of Children: Motherhood, Substance Use, and Depression
Sarah Wilson
Clemson University Working Paper, November 2019


There is an extensive theoretical literature identifying the negative effects of the number of children on the outcomes for mothers. While several studies have examined the effects on labor market and health outcomes, little research to date has considered effects on mental health and substance use. I use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth and a variety of empirical strategies to explore the causal effect of family size on maternal depression and drug use. To address the endogeneity of fertility decisions, I use two natural experiments that exogenously increase the number of children -- parity-specific twin births and the gender composition of the first two children. My results provide suggestive evidence that an increase in family size at the third birth parity leads to an increase in a mother's probability of depression. The main findings indicate that a third birth induced by a twin birth or the same-sex composition of the first two children increases a mother's probability of alcohol consumption by about 5.0 percentage points. These estimated effects on alcohol consumption are greater for married mothers. By contrast, I do not find strong evidence of increased marijuana use after the birth of an additional child.

Inter Vivos Transfers and Choice of Field of Study
Abigail Loxton
Indiana University Working Paper, November 2019


I find evidence that parents affect their child’s career choice through inter vivos transfers. Embedding an occupational choice model into an overlapping generations framework with altruism, I show children with wealthy parents favor jobs that have riskier income streams relative to their expected earnings because high-income parents can insure their children against large negative earnings shocks. Using the 1997 cohort from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, I rank major fields of study according to two measures of earnings uncertainty. I then use a multinomial logit to show that children of higher income parents select into fields with higher earnings uncertainty. The empirical results suggest that child decisions are consistent with the theory that inter vivos transfers act as an insurance mechanism for college children. To further this hypothesis, I study a subgroup of college students with higher earnings uncertainty: first generation students. I show that first generation students are less likely to select into fields where the earnings uncertainty is disproportionately high.

Sexual Development in Adolescence: An Examination of Genetic and Environmental Influences
Angus Clark et al.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, forthcoming


Sexual development entails many experiences and is a major feature of adolescence. Most relevant behavioral genetic studies, however, focus primarily on sexual behaviors associated with health risks. We took a more normative, developmental perspective by examining genetic and environmental influences on five sexual behaviors ranging from dating to pregnancy in middle (Mage = 14.90 years) and late adolescence (Mage = 17.85 years) in a sample of twins (N = 3,762). Overall, behaviors that are more common and socially sanctioned (e.g., dating) were more heritable than behaviors that are less common and socially acceptable (e.g., sexual intercourse). That the etiology of different sexual behaviors is tied to their normativeness highlights the importance of considering the broader developmental context when studying sexual development.

Factors associated with the timing of abortions
Fidel Gonzalez, Troy Quast & Alex Venanzi
Health Economics, forthcoming


The timing of an abortion (often measured as gestational age) can have important effects on the woman's physical health and on the cost of the procedure. To the authors' knowledge, there has been only one national analysis of the factors associated with the gestational age at abortion, but it employed data from over 20 years ago. The state‐specific studies that have explored abortion timing have typically examined the effects of a specific change in abortion regulations. In this study, we employ annual, state‐level data covering the 1991–2014 period that measure the frequency of abortions by gestational age. We regress these measures of abortion utilization on policy, economic, demographic, and health care infrastructure characteristics. The estimates indicate that the introduction of state restrictions on Medicaid funding of abortions is associated with a 13% increase in the rate of abortions after the first trimester. We do not find a statistically significant association between parental involvement laws and the rate or percentage of post‐first‐trimester abortions.

Demand for Self-Managed Medication Abortion Through an Online Telemedicine Service in the United States
Abigail Aiken et al.
American Journal of Public Health, January 2020, Pages 90-97

Methods: We examined requests from US residents to the online telemedicine abortion service Women on Web (WoW) between October 15, 2017, and August 15, 2018. We calculated the population-adjusted rate of requests by state and examined the demographics, clinical characteristics, and motivations of those seeking services, comparing those in states with hostile versus supportive abortion policy climates.

Results: Over 10 months, WoW received 6022 requests from US residents; 76% from hostile states. Mississippi had the highest rate of requests (24.9 per 100 000 women of reproductive age). In both hostile and supportive states, a majority (60%) reported a combination of barriers to clinic access and preferences for self-management. Cost was the most common barrier (71% in hostile states; 63% in supportive states; P < .001). Privacy was the most common preference (49% in both hostile and supportive states; P = .66).

Pre-and Post-Birth Components of Intergenerational Persistence in Health and Longevity: Lessons from a Large Sample of Adoptees
Evelina Björkegren et al.
Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming


We use a large sample of Swedish-born adoptees and their biological and adopting parents to decompose the persistence in health inequality across generations into pre-birth and post-birth components. We use three sets of measures for health outcomes in the second generation: mortality, measures based on data on hospitalization and, finally, measures using birth outcomes for the third generation. The results show that all of the persistence in mortality is transmitted solely via pre-birth factors, while the results for the hospitalization measures suggest that at least three quarters of the intergenerational persistence in health is attributable to the biological parents.


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