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

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  • Martha J. Bailey

Abstract

The 1960s ushered in a new era in U.S. 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 fifty years after the contraceptive pill appeared on the U.S. market, this analysis provides new evidence that it accelerated the post-1960 decline in marital fertility.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14675.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Publication status: published as "Momma's Got the Pill: How Anthony Comstock and Griswold v. Connecticut Shaped U.S Childbearing," American Economic Review, 100 (1), March 2010: 98-129.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14675

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  1. 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.
  2. Willis, Robert J, 1973. "A New Approach to the Economic Theory of Fertility Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S14-64, Part II, .
  3. Pritchett, Lant H. & DEC, 1994. "Desired fertility and the impact of population policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1273, The World Bank.
  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, 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, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 3-26, Spring.
  6. Robert T. Michael & Robert J. Willis, 1973. "Contraception and Fertility: Household Production Under Uncertainty," NBER Working Papers 0021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Melanie Guldi, 2008. "Fertility effects of abortion and birth control pill access for minors," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 45(4), pages 817-827, November.
  8. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. 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, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 289-320, 02.
  11. 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, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Melvyn G Coles & Marco Francesconi, 2013. "Equilibrium Search and the Impact of Equal Opportunities for Women," Economics Discussion Papers, University of Essex, Department of Economics 742, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  3. Grönqvist, Hans, 2009. "Putting teenagers on the pill: the consequences of subsidized contraception," Working Paper Series, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy 2009:8, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  4. Tal Gross & Jeanne Lafortune & Corinne Low, 2014. "What Happens the Morning After? The Costs and Benefits of Expanding Access to Emergency Contraception," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 33(1), pages 70-93, 01.
  5. Qingyan Shang & Bruce Weinberg, 2013. "Opting for families: recent trends in the fertility of highly educated women," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 5-32, January.
  6. Daniel L. Chen & Susan Yeh, 2013. "The Construction of Morals," Working Papers, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science 1042, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  7. Timothy W. Guinnane, 2011. "The Historical Fertility Transition: A Guide for Economists," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 49(3), pages 589-614, September.
  8. Kelly Ragan, 2012. "Sex and the Single Girl: The Role of Culture in Contraception Demand," 2012 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 846, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. 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).
  10. Thomas Mayer, 2012. "Ziliak and McClosky’s Criticisms of Significance Tests: A Damage Assessment," Working Papers, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics 126, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  11. Bellido, Héctor & Marcén, Miriam, 2011. "Divorce laws and fertility decisions," MPRA Paper 30243, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Joanna Lahey, 2014. "The Effect of Anti-Abortion Legislation on Nineteenth Century Fertility," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 939-948, June.
  13. Guinnane, Timothy W> & Martinez Rodriguez, Susana, 2012. "For Every Law, a Loophole: Flexibility in the Menu of Spanish Business Forms, 1886-1936," Working Papers, Yale University, Department of Economics 103, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  14. Marcén, Miriam, 2012. "Divorce and the birth control pill," MPRA Paper 35955, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Miriam Marcen, 2013. "Divorce and the birth control pill," ERSA conference papers ersa13p755, European Regional Science Association.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.

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