THE EFFECT OF PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT LAWS ON YOUTH SUICIDE

Authors

  • JOSEPH J. SABIA,

    1. Sabia: Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182-4485. Phone 619-594-2407, Fax 619-594-5062, E-mail jsabia@mail.sdsu.edu
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  • DANIEL I. REES

    1. Rees: Professor, Department of Economics, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO 80217-3364. Phone (303) 315-2037, Fax 303-315-2048, E-mail daniel.rees@ucdenver.edu
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    • The authors thank Andres Araoz, R. Preston Brown II, Whitney Dudley, and Amrita Sen for excellent research assistance. We also thank Marianne Bitler and Madeline Zavodny for sharing their data on abortion policies; Jonathan Klick and Thomas Stratmann for sharing their data on enjoined parental involvement laws; and Laura Langbein and Daniel Eisenberg for sharing data on alcohol policies.


Abstract

Using state-level data on suicides from the period 1987 to 2003, we find that the adoption of a law requiring a parent's notification or consent before a minor can obtain an abortion is associated with an 11%–21% reduction in the number of 15- through 17-year-old females who commit suicide. In contrast, the adoption of a parental involvement law is not associated with a reduction in the number of older females who commit suicide or in the number of 15- through 17-year-old males who commit suicide. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that parental involvement laws represent an increase in the expected cost of having unprotected sex, and, as a consequence, serve to protect young females from depression and what have been termed “stressful life events” such as conflict with a parent or an abortion. (JEL I18, I10, J13)

Ancillary