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Divorce and the birth control pill

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  • MARCÉN, MIRIAM

Abstract

This paper explores the role of the birth control pill on divorce. To identify its effect, we use a quasi experiment exploiting the differences in the language of the Comstock anti-obscenity statutes approved in the 1800s and early 1900s in the US. Results suggest that banning the sales of oral contraceptive methods has a negative impact on divorce. These findings are robust to alternative specifications and controls for observed (such as female labour force participation, or changes in the early legal access to the birth control pill) and unobserved state-specific factors, and time-varying factors at the state level. Additional analysis, developed to examine whether the impact of subsequent divorce law reforms on divorce is modified after controlling for the birth control pill effect, shows that, although sales bans matter, the impact of divorce law reforms on divorce rate does not vary.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 35955.

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Date of creation: 15 Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:35955

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Keywords: Divorce rate; birth control pill; sales bans; unilateral divorce;

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  1. Silvia Pezzini, 2005. "The Effect of Women's Rights on Women's Welfare: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages C208-C227, 03.
  2. Pedro Mira & Namkee Ahn, 2002. "A note on the changing relationship between fertility and female employment rates in developed countries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 667-682.
  3. Wolfers, Justin, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," Research Papers 1819, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  4. Martha J. Bailey, 2010. ""Momma's Got the Pill": How Anthony Comstock and Griswold v. Connecticut Shaped US Childbearing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 98-129, March.
  5. 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.
  6. Finn Christensen, 2010. "The Pill and Partnerships: The impact of the birth control pill on cohabitation," Working Papers 2010-02, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2010.
  7. 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.
  8. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Allen, Douglas W., 1998. "No-fault divorce in Canada: Its cause and effect," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 129-149, October.
  10. J. M. Nunley, 2010. "Inflation and other aggregate determinants of the trend in US divorce rates since the 1960s," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(26), pages 3367-3381.
  11. Smith, Ian, 1997. "Explaining the Growth of Divorce in Great Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 44(5), pages 519-44, November.
  12. Martin Halla, 2013. "The Effect Of Joint Custody On Family Outcomes," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 278-315, 04.
  13. Heinrich Hock, 2007. "The Pill and the College Attainment of American Women and Men," Working Papers wp2007_10_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
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