The relationship between legal abortion and marriage

K. E. Bauman, G. G. Koch, J. R. Udry, J. L. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The authors hypothesized a relationship between legal abortion birth ratios and crude marriage rate trends among states in the United States. Their rationale was that many legal abortions are performed for the unmarried; thus legal abortion might be preventing marriages forced by premarital pregnancy. The analyses suggested that there was an association between legal abortion and changes among crude marriage rates for the states with the highest abortion birth ratios. The crude estimates suggested that, if there is a causal relationship, it takes 9-10 legal abortions for the unmarried to delay a marriage one year. Put another way, about one abortion in ten delays a marriage if all the decline in marriage rates is due to increases in abortions and if no legal abortions are replacements for previously illegal abortions. The results were obtained using general measures for the variables, and more refined measures which account for race, age, parity, and marital status might produce stronger relationships between legalized abortion and marriage trends than observed here. This analysis justifies a more refined analysis when the data become available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1975
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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