Friday, November 04, 2005

Parental involvement laws and their affect on risky teen sex

Law professor Jonathon Klick of Florida State and economics professor Thomas Stratmann of George Mason wrote an interesting paper regarding abortion access and risky sex among teens.

Their abstract states:

Laws requiring minors to seek parental consent or to notify a parent prior to obtaining an abortion raise the cost of risky sex for teenagers. Assuming choices to engage in risky sex are made rationally, parental involvement laws should lead to less risky sex among teens, either because of a reduction of sexual activity altogether or because teens will be more fastidious in the use of birth control ex ante. Using gonorrhea rates among older women to control for unobserved heterogeneity across states, our results indicate that the enactment of parental involvement laws significantly reduces risky sexual activity among teenage girls.

It seems like a rather basic and commonsense theory to me. If minor girls see abortion as a form of birth control and recognize that they'll have to involve their parents in an abortion decision, then it makes sense to me that they'd be more likely to avoid having sex without birth control or be even more wary of having sex. The only problem I wonder about is if minor girls are that forward thinking when it comes to having sex. I never had sex as a teen so I can only imagine the thoughts of individuals engaging in pre-marital teen sex. I should also mention that Klick and Stratmann results studied the gonorrhea rates of girls who were 18 and 19.

Other interesting tidbits:

Klick and Stratmann (2003) examine the "double experiment" provided by U.S. abortion policy to examine this link. They find that when Alaska, California, Hawaii, New York, and Washington legalized abortion on demand in the period 1969-1970, the gonorrhea and syphilis rates in those states rose significantly compared to the rest of the country. When the Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand nationwide in 1973, the STD gap between the early legalizers and other states disappeared.....

Incentives matter. They matter even in activities as primal as sex, and they matter even among teenagers, who are conventionally thought to be relatively myopic. If the expected costs of risky sex are raised, teens will substitute toward less risky activities such as protected sex or abstinence. In addition to modeling the decision making processes of teenagers, this insight is important in other contexts as well. Many public policies can be improved by recognizing the sensitivity of teenage sexual decisions to costs and benefits.

HT:The Truth Shall Set You Free

No comments:

Post a Comment