IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Subsidized Contraception, Fertility, and Sexual Behavior


  • Melissa S. Kearney

    (Department of Economics, University of Maryland, and NBER)

  • Phillip B. Levine

    (Department of Economics, Wellesley College, and NBER)


We examine the impact of recent state-level Medicaid policy changes that expanded eligibility for family planning services to higher-income women and to Medicaid clients whose benefits would expire otherwise. We show that the income-based policy change reduced overall births to non-teens by about 2% and to teens by over 4%; estimates suggest a decline of 9% among newly eligible women. The reduction in fertility appears to have been accomplished via greater use of contraception. Our calculations indicate that allowing higher-income women to receive federally funded family planning cost on the order of $6,800 for each averted birth. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Melissa S. Kearney & Phillip B. Levine, 2009. "Subsidized Contraception, Fertility, and Sexual Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 137-151, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:91:y:2009:i:1:p:137-151

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Phillip B. Levine, 2001. "The Sexual Activity and Birth-Control Use of American Teenagers," NBER Chapters,in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 167-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Paul Gertler & John Molyneaux, 1994. "How economic development and family planning programs combined to reduce indonesian fertility," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 31(1), pages 33-63, February.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:11:1773-1778_9 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Melissa Schettini Kearney, 2004. "Is There an Effect of Incremental Welfare Benefits on Fertility Behavior?: A Look at the Family Cap," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(2).
    5. Jennifer M. Mellor, 1998. "The Effect of Family Planning Programs on the Fertility of Welfare Recipients: Evidence from Medicaid Claims," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 866-895.
    6. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 2000. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages 672-694, November.
    7. Paton, David, 2002. "The economics of family planning and underage conceptions," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 207-225, March.
    8. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 289-320.
    9. Phillip B. Levine, 2002. "The Impact of Social Policy and Economic Activity Throughout the Fertility Decision Tree," NBER Working Papers 9021, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:91:y:2009:i:1:p:137-151. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kristin Waites). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.