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Marriage and Emancipation in The Age of The Pill

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  • Edlund, Lena Cecilia
  • Machado, Cecilia

Abstract

Women’s economic emancipation arguably took off in the late 1960s and early 1970s. While ubiquitous, its origins are not well understood. In an influential paper, Goldin and Katz [2002] pointed to the role of unmarried women’s access to the oral contraceptive (the Pill), ushered in by the extension of legal rights to "mature minors" in the late 1960s early 1970s. However, the Pill was FDA approved already in 1960, and many states allowed a minor to marry, thereby emancipating her with respect to medical treatment, including the Pill. By the mid-1970s, the minimum marriage age had been lowered to 18 in almost all states. Exploiting changes in the legal rights of young adults by state, we find evidence that the Pill made early marriage more attractive and facilitated women’s educational and occupational attainments. Marriage combined with the Pill, we speculate, may have provided women with the means to pursue higher education at a time of limited student aid and ability to borrow against future earnings.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7485.

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Date of creation: Oct 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7485

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Keywords: Contraceptive Pill; Education; Marriage; Occupation;

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  1. Phillip B. Levine & Douglas Staiger & Thomas J. Kane & David J. Zimmerman, 1996. "Roe v. Wade and American Fertility," NBER Working Papers 5615, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2012. "The Power of the Pill for the Next Generation: Oral Contraception's Effects on Fertility, Abortion, and Maternal and Child Characteristics," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 37-51, February.
  3. 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.
  4. Pierre-André Chiappori & Sonia Oreffice, 2008. "Birth Control and Female Empowerment: An Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(1), pages 113-140, 02.
  5. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2007. "The Power of the Pill for the Next Generation," NBER Working Papers 13402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Rebecca M. Blank & Kerwin Kofi Charles & James M. Sallee, 2009. "A Cautionary Tale about the Use of Administrative Data: Evidence from Age of Marriage Laws," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 128-49, April.
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Cited by:
  1. David Weiss & Cezar Santos, 2011. "Why Not Settle Down Already? A Quantitative Question," 2011 Meeting Papers 921, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Boschini, Anne & Håkanson, Christina & Rosén, Åsa & Sjögren, Anna, 2011. "Trading off or having it all? Completed fertility and mid-career earnings of Swedish men and women," Working Paper Series 2011:15, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

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