Friday, May 30, 2008

Fox and Griffin on the ADA's "Collateral Effects"

Up on SSRN: Dov Fox & Christopher Griffin have posted The Collateral Effects of Law on Social Behavior: The Case of Antidiscrimination Law and Selective Abortion. The abstract:

This Article explores the powerful ways in which changes in the law can bring about unexpected changes in social behavior that is unrelated to that which the law regulates. We puzzle through this unexamined phenomenon by considering the relation between a major antidiscrimination law, the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA), and a routine reproductive practice, selective abortion on the basis of Down syndrome. Our empirical analysis of U.S. natality data suggests that the ADA has the surprising effect of preventing the existence of the very class of people the law was intended to protect. We explain this paradox by showing how the ADA's implementation mechanism generates stigmatizing attitudes toward people with disabilities. The law's requirement that those seeking its protection prove the limitations caused by their disability does damage to our understandings and expectations about what it means to be disabled. Using formal regression analysis, we find suggestive evidence that the ADA significantly increased the incidence of decisions to terminate a pregnancy following a positive test for Down syndrome. We discuss the implications of this expressive externality for disability, reproduction, and antidiscrimination law in the United States.

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