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Journal Article

Induced Abortion and Life Satisfaction in Germany: The Role of Selection Processes and Short-Term Effects


Kaiser,  Florian
Independent Research Group: Space, Contexts, and Crime, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, Max Planck Society;

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Huss, B., & Kaiser, F. (2022). Induced Abortion and Life Satisfaction in Germany: The Role of Selection Processes and Short-Term Effects. Zeitschrift für Soziologie. doi:10.1515/zfsoz-2022-0022.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-519C-A
Unintended pregnancies resulting in induced abortion are occasionally associated with poor psychological well-being. In the literature, this is attributed to either (1) the consequences of abortion, (2) the consequences of unintended pregnancy, or (3) specific selection processes. This longitudinal study addresses these explanations based on data from the German family panel “pairfam” (n = 3,604 women). It compares changes in life satisfaction among different groups of women: Those who had an abortion, those who had a live birth, and those who were not pregnant. A matching procedure ensures the comparability of the groups. The results show that women reported temporarily lower life satisfaction immediately after abortion than similar women following live birth or in absence of pregnancy, while no significant group differences were found in the long run. However, abortion is preceded by significantly lower pre-event life satisfaction than live birth or absence of pregnancy. Persistent poor well-being should therefore primarily be considered a selection criterion for abortions resulting from unintended pregnancies rather than as their consequence.