A Complete Guide to Life, Death and Misadventure
Edited by Simon W. Bowmaker
Chapter 11: Economics of abortion
Leo H. Kahane Abortion is an old practice dating back (at least) several thousand years to ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations. The procedure continues to be carried out in virtually all societies across the globe and in modern times has become a point of divisive, and at times explosive, social debate. The moral and emotional dimensions of abortion tend to dominate the discussion surrounding the procedure, but over the last several decades economists have carried out research on such topics as the supply of and demand for abortion, the eﬀects of the availability of abortion on crime rates, how abortion has aﬀected the incidence of so-called ‘shotgun’ marriages, as well as others. The purpose of this chapter is to describe how the methodology employed by economists has been put to work in analysing the topic of abortion in a number of interesting ways. The layout of this chapter is as follows. Section 1 contains a brief discussion of the procedure, providing some terminology and recent statistics on trends in abortion rates throughout the world. This section is intended to give the reader a sense of the size of the ‘market’ for abortion services as well as prepare them for the discussion that comes later. The rest of the chapter is divided up into several sections, each devoted to a particular type of economic analysis. Section 2 focuses on the demand for and supply of abortion services and demonstrates how these fundamental tools of economic analysis can be...
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