A new paper published in the Journal of Population Economics shows that papal visits in Italy lead to increased church attendance and a decline in abortions that is greater when the Pope mentions abortion in his speeches.
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GLO Fellow Egidio Farina
Author Abstract: We investigate the impact of papal visits to Italian provinces on abortions from 1979 to 2012. Using administrative data, we find a 10–20% decrease in the number of abortions that commences in the 3rd month and persists until the 14th month after the visits. However, we find no significant change in the number of live births. A decline in unintended pregnancies best explains our results. Papal visits generate intense local media coverage, and likely make salient the Catholic Church’s stance against abortions. We show that papal visits lead to increased church attendance, and that the decline in abortions is greater when the Pope mentions abortion in his speeches.