A Cross-National Comparison of Abortion and Inequality

Elizabeth Boyle, University of Minnesota
Joseph Svec, University of Minnesota

We consider the impact of national-level legal context and individual women's resources on the decision to obtain an abortion. Based on Demographic and Health Survey data from 18 countries, our key contribution is to explain how legal context and household wealth interact to affect abortion decisions. In essence, we answer the questions: Does the impact of household wealth on abortion decisions vary depending on the legal context of abortion and, if so, how? We find that wealth matters most in those countries with moderate abortion policies, where abortion is neither banned nor available on demand. Such policies may coincide with more public contestation over abortion, leading to less public funding for pregnancy termination, fewer providers, and less information on how to obtain an abortion. The results may also reflect how greater resources make it easier to negotiate a complex system of partial legality.

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Presented in Session 198: Abortion