Has the Opioid Crisis Affected Family Formation? Evaluating Local Nonmarital Childbearing, 2000-2016

Monica Caudillo , University of Maryland
Andres Villarreal, University of Maryland

The U.S. has experienced a dramatic rise in opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths in recent years. We investigate the effect of the opioid epidemic at the local level on nonmarital birth rates for the years 2000-2016. Local opioid-related death rates are estimated using restricted Vital Statistics records, and matched with birth data at the PUMA level. Models include year and area fixed effects. We also test endogenous models using the length of exposure to state medical marijuana laws as an instrumental variable. We find a significant increase in nonmarital birth rates in communities that experienced a rise in opioid-related death rates. Our analyses show these effects are not driven by reductions in marriage rates, and that marital birth rates are unaffected. Individual-level data from the ACS 2008-2016 are then used to further assess the potential causal mechanisms and to test differences by race and ethnicity.

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 Presented in Session 210. Flash Session: Recent Trends in Fertility and Contraception in the United States