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"Momma's Got the Pill": How Anthony Comstock and Griswold v. Connecticut Shaped US Childbearing

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  • Martha J. Bailey

Abstract

The 1960s ushered in a new era in US demographic history characterized by significantly lower fertility rates and smaller family sizes. What catalyzed these changes remains a matter of considerable debate. This paper exploits idiosyncratic variation in the language of "Comstock" statutes, enacted in the late 1800s, to quantify the role of the birth control pill in this transition. Almost 50 years after the contraceptive pill appeared on the US market, this analysis provides new evidence that it accelerated the post-1960 decline in marital fertility. (JEL J12, J13, K10, N31, N32)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 98-129

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:1:p:98-129

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.1.98
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  1. Katz, Lawrence & Goldin, Claudia, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women’s Career and Marriage Decisions," Scholarly Articles 2624453, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  3. Arellano, M, 1987. "Computing Robust Standard Errors for Within-Groups Estimators," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 49(4), pages 431-34, November.
  4. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
  5. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 2007. "The American Family and Family Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 3-26, Spring.
  6. Martha J Bailey, 2006. "More Power to the Pill: The Impact of Contraceptive Freedom on Women's Life Cycle Labor Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 289-320, 02.
  7. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  8. Pritchett, Lant H. & DEC, 1994. "Desired fertility and the impact of population policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1273, The World Bank.
  9. Robert T. Michael & Robert J. Willis, 1973. "Contraception and Fertility: Household Production Under Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 0021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Willis, Robert J, 1973. "A New Approach to the Economic Theory of Fertility Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S14-64, Part II, .
  11. Melanie Guldi, 2008. "Fertility effects of abortion and birth control pill access for minors," Demography, Springer, vol. 45(4), pages 817-827, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Myers, Caitlin Knowles, 2012. "Power of the Pill or Power of Abortion? Re-Examining the Effects of Young Women's Access to Reproductive Control," IZA Discussion Papers 6661, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Tal Gross & Jeanne Lafortune & Corinne Low, 2012. "What Happens the Morning After? The Costs and Benets of Expanding Access to Emergency Contraception," Documentos de Trabajo 425, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
  3. Timothy W. Guinnane, 2010. "The Historical Fertility Transition: A Guide for Economists," Working Papers 990, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  4. Melvyn G. Coles & Marco Francesconi, 2013. "Equilibrium Search and the Impact of Equal Opportunities for Women," CESifo Working Paper Series 4556, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Grönqvist., Hans, 2012. "Putting Teenagers on the Pill: The Consequences of Subsidized Contraception," Working Paper Series 9/2012, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  6. Dang, Hai-Anh & Rogers, Halsey, 2013. "The decision to invest in child quality over quantity : household size and household investment in education in Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6487, The World Bank.
  7. Marcén, Miriam, 2012. "Divorce and the birth control pill," MPRA Paper 35955, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Martin Dribe & Francesco Scalone, 2014. "Social class and net fertility before, during, and after the demographic transition: A micro-level analysis of Sweden 1880-1970," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(15), pages 429-464, February.
  9. Martha J. Bailey, 2011. "Reexamining the Impact of Family Planning Programs on U.S. Fertility: Evidence from the War on Poverty and the Early Years of Title X," NBER Working Papers 17343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Daniel L. Chen & Susan Yeh, 2013. "The Construction of Morals," Working Papers 1042, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  11. Qingyan Shang & Bruce Weinberg, 2013. "Opting for families: recent trends in the fertility of highly educated women," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 5-32, January.
  12. Kelly Ragan, 2012. "Sex and the Single Girl: The Role of Culture in Contraception Demand," 2012 Meeting Papers 846, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  13. Thomas Mayer, 2012. "Ziliak and McCloskey's Criticisms of Significance Tests: An Assessment," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 9(3), pages 256-297, September.
  14. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2011. "Divorce laws and fertility decisions," MPRA Paper 30243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Joanna Lahey, 2014. "The Effect of Anti-Abortion Legislation on Nineteenth Century Fertility," Demography, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 939-948, June.
  16. Timothy W. Guinnane & Susana Martinez Rodriguez, 2012. "For Every Law, a Loophole: Flexibility in the Menu of Spanish Business Forms, 1886-1936," Working Papers 1012, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  17. Miriam Marcen, 2013. "Divorce and the birth control pill," ERSA conference papers ersa13p755, European Regional Science Association.
  18. Thomas Mayer, 2012. "Ziliak and McClosky’s Criticisms of Significance Tests: A Damage Assessment," Working Papers 126, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.

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