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Abortion policy and freshman migration, 2018 and 2020

The recent SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade has set off an interesting debate about student college choice.  People who favor legal access to abortion seem convinced that students--especially women--will change their college plans based on the climate in the state of the college(s) they're considering.

Will it?  I don't know.  I do know that when everyone seems to be convinced of something related to college admissions and student choice, the reality is often very different than the predictions, after all is said and done.  And on the other hand, this feels different, somehow.  To repeat: I don't know.

Of course, the ability of students to migrate across state lines is generally reserved for those with more wealth and privilege, and as I've demonstrated before (here and here), educated and wealthier communities tend to vote Democratic, and thus, are more likely to be pro-choice and more likely to be upset by the SCOTUS decision.  And I, like a lot of people, live in an echo chamber and mostly listen to people who share my political beliefs (which is also why I haven't heard from my brother since November, 2020.  But that's another story.)

Additionally, politics is probably already a factor in college choice for those students who can move out of state, and those who go to institutions with more conservative religious affiliations, like BYU, or Notre Dame, or Grove City.  Finally, not everyone is political, and not everyone disagrees with the SCOTUS ruling.

But I still wanted to look at the data, so here it is in a single view.  I looked at freshman migration in 2018 and 2020 to smooth out some of bumps that might be a result of COVID in 2020.  And before you ask, IPEDS only requires this data to be reported in even-numbered years, so we won't have 2022, let alone 2024, for a long time yet.

I broke down a college's freshman classes into four categories: State residents (the state breakdown tab here shows that about 79% of students attend college in their home state); international students, students from states with mostly unrestricted abortion laws, and students with more restrictive abortion laws.  Counts are on the left; percentages on the right.  I used the classifications here in case you were wondering, so argue with the New York times if you don't agree.

What do you see here?  Leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter


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