Southern University College of Business E-Journal


Many studies have shown that some rather personal decisions have been influenced by the generosity of a state’s welfare program. Ozawa (1989), Caudill and Mixon (1993), and Clark and Strauss (1998) have all established a positive relationship between the level of financial support to unwed mothers and rates of fertility. Of course, having children is the result of having unprotected sexual relations. Such relations can lead to other outcomes besides the birth of a child. Ressler et al. (2005) and Ressler et al. (2006) found a positive link between the generosity of a state’s welfare payments and contraction rates of HIV and other STDs, respectively. Most important to the current research, Leibowitz et al. (1986) as well as Gohmann and Ohsfeldt (1993) found an inverse relationship between welfare support and rates of abortion. In 1996, President Clinton signed into law the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act” – commonly referred to as Welfare Reform. Prior to this law, welfare was administered under Aid to Families with Dependent Children or AFDC. The welfare reform law introduced a new program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The most significant difference between the two programs is that under TANF a family can receive assistance for a maximum of five years. No such time limit existed under AFDC. The calculus of optimization for welfare recipients changed in the wake of welfare reform. For example, Ressler et al. (2011) demonstrated that the effect of TANF payments on HIV contraction rates is significantly less than that of AFDC payments. The current research attempts to ascertain whether welfare reform also changed abortion behavior. Using statewide data, we attempt to explain differences in rates of abortion as a function of a myriad of explanatory variables including a dichotomous variable indicating the welfare program (AFDC or TANF) in effect.

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