The Pill and the College Attainment of American Women and Men
This paper considers the educational consequences of the increased ability of young women to delay childbearing as a result of the birth control pill. In order to identify the effects of the pill, I utilize quasi-experimental variation in U.S. state laws governing access to contraception among female adolescents during the 1960s and 1970s. Inference based on these laws indicates that unconstrained access to the pill increased female college enrollment rates by over 2 percentage points and reduced the dropout rate by over 5 percentage points. Further, early pill access led to a rise in college completion of approximately three quarters of a percentage point among women over the age of thirty. Finally, I analyze the outcomes of men in relation to the contraceptive laws, finding evidence that male educational opportunities also improved due to reductions in undesired early fertility among their female partners.
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