support for abortion rights: a generational story

For a talk this afternoon, I quickly looked at attitudes toward abortion rights by age cohort. I think the story is interesting. In brief, each generation came of age with more favorable attitudes toward abortion than the cohorts that preceded it–until the Xers arrived. They were less favorable than the Boomers. At about the same time that Xers became a substantial part of the adult population, there was a decline in support for abortion rights within each generation. As a result, fewer people have favored abortion rights since 1994.

The Millennials are not numerous enough in the adult population to show a trend. Anna Greenberg found that 63% of Millennials supported a woman’s legal right to abortion, but her question didn’t specify the conditions under which abortions would be allowed. Surveys of college students typically find strong support for abortion rights, but most young people do not attend college.