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The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions

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  • Claudia Goldin
  • Lawrence F. Katz

Abstract

The fraction of U.S. college graduate women entering professional programs increased substantially just after 1970, and the age at first marriage among all U.S. college graduate women began to soar around the same year. We explore the relationship between these two changes and the diffusion of the birth control pill ("the pill") among young, unmarried college graduate women. Although the pill was approved in 1960 by the Food and Drug Administration and spread rapidly among married women, it did not diffuse among young, single women until the late 1960s after state law changes reduced the age of majority and extended "mature minor" decisions. We present both descriptive time series and formal econometric evidence that exploit cross-state and cross-cohort variation in pill availability to young, unmarried women, establishing the "power of the pill" in lowering the costs of long-duration professional education for women and raising the age at first marriage.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 110 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
Pages: 730-770

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:110:y:2002:i:4:p:730-770

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  1. Mark Bagnoli & Ted Bergstrom, . "Courtship as a Waiting Game," Papers _030, University of Michigan, Department of Economics.
  2. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709, September.
  3. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L & Katz, Michael L, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317, May.
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  1. Power of the Pill or Power of Abortion?
    by Berk Ozler in Development Impact on 2012-07-26 03:34:04
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