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The impetus for the current round of welfare reform derives from two complementary arguments. First, there is simply a concern that too many resources are being transferred from taxpayers to a dependent class, welfare recipients. Second, there is a concern that the welfare system itself induces undesirable behavior; in particular, the claim is that it induces women to have children when they cannot afford them and out of wedlock. The paper provides a discussion of the methodological issues in evaluating the causal effects of welfare reform on the number of abortions; then combines the insights from the discussion of the theory, the data, and the methodological issues to try to draw some insights from the existing literature. Using the perspectives gained from the discussion of data and methodological issues, the paper then reviews the empirical literature on the effects of welfare and abortion policy on abortion and tries to put these pieces together to sketch potential research strategies to explore the actual effects of welfare reform on the level of abortions.

Originally published in: Welfare, The Family, and Reproductive Behavior: Research Perspectives, pp. 98-133.

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