Abortion legalization and adolescent substance use

We assess whether adolescents who faced a higher risk of having been aborted are more likely to use controlled substances. We find that adolescents born in states that legalized abortion before national legalization in 1973, during the years when only those states permitted abortion, were much less likely to use drugs than persons from the same birth cohorts born elsewhere. These differences do not exist for earlier or later cohorts. Our results are much the same when we characterize abortion risk by either the birth rate or abortion rate in the year and place of the person's birth.