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The Power of the Pill for the Next Generation

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  • Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat
  • Daniel M. Hungerman

Abstract

In this paper we ask how the diffusion of oral contraception to young unmarried women affected the number and maternal characteristics of children born to these women. Using census data, we find that early pill access led to an increase in the share of children whose mothers were married, college-educated, and had professional occupations. The pill's effects on the average mother are different from the pill's effects on the average woman, and the effects of the pill on maternal characteristics are in some instances different from the effects of abortion. We investigate the mechanisms by which the pill led to these differential effects and find that access to the pill led to falls in short-term fertility rates for young women and led to decreases in lifetime fertility at the intensive and extensive margins. The impacts of the pill on household characteristics are thus associated with retiming of births, changes in the characteristics of potential mothers, changes in which women become mothers, and by reductions in completed family size. Finally, while the pill affected maternal characteristics differently than abortion, we find suggestive results that availability of the pill lowered abortions among young women.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13402.

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Date of creation: Sep 2007
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Publication status: published as February 2012, Vol. 94, No. 1, Pages 37-51 Posted Online January 30, 2012. (doi:10.1162/REST_a_00230) © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13402

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References

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  1. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine, 2007. "Abortion Legalization and Life-Cycle Fertility," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
  2. John J. Donohue & Steven D. Levitt, 2001. "The Impact Of Legalized Abortion On Crime," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 379-420, May.
  3. Claudia Goldin, 2004. "The Long Road to the Fast Track: Career and Family," NBER Working Papers 10331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Christopher L. Foote & Christopher F. Goetz, 2005. "Testing economic hypotheses with state-level data: a comment on Donohue and Levitt (2001)," Working Papers 05-15, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  5. 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.
  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. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2000. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions," NBER Working Papers 7527, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Charles, Kerwin Kofi & Stephens, Melvin, Jr, 2006. "Abortion Legalization and Adolescent Substance Use," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 49(2), pages 481-505, October.
  9. Arnaud Chevalier, 2004. "Parental Education And Child's Education: A Natural Experiment," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2004 42, Royal Economic Society.
  10. Joshua D. Angrist & William N. Evans, 1996. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of the 1970 State Abortion Reforms," NBER Working Papers 5406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother'S Education And The Intergenerational Transmission Of Human Capital: Evidence From College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532, November.
  12. repec:eme:rlepps:v:18:y:1999:i:1999:p:75-113 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Jonathan Gruber & Phillip Levine & Douglas Staiger, 1997. "Abortion Legalization and Child Living Circumstances: Who is the "Marginal Child?"," NBER Working Papers 6034, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Duncan Thomas & John Strauss & Maria-Helena Henriques, 1991. "How Does Mother's Education Affect Child Height?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 26(2), pages 183-211.
  15. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page, 2006. "The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 729-760, October.
  16. Grant Miller, 2005. "Contraception as Development? New Evidence from Family Planning in Colombia," NBER Working Papers 11704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. repec:hae:wpaper:2013-6 is not listed on IDEAS
  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. Martha J. Bailey & Melanie E. Guldi & Brad J. Hershbein, 2013. "Is There A Case for a "Second Demographic Transition"? Three Distinctive Features of the Post-1960 U.S. Fertility Decline," NBER Working Papers 19599, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Edlund, Lena Cecilia & Machado, Cecilia, 2009. "Marriage and Emancipation in The Age of The Pill," CEPR Discussion Papers 7485, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Dmitriev, Mikhail, 2010. "Fertility. Abortion. Contraception. Demographic situation in Russia in 1994-2003," MPRA Paper 21151, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2011. "Divorce laws and fertility decisions," MPRA Paper 30243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Marcén, Miriam, 2012. "Divorce and the birth control pill," MPRA Paper 35955, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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