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Power of the Pill or Power of Abortion? Re-Examining the Effects of Young Women's Access to Reproductive Control


  • Myers, Caitlin Knowles

    () (Middlebury College)


Recent research postulating that the diffusion of confidential access to the birth control pill to young women in the United States contributed to the dramatic social changes of the late 1960s and 1970s has not adequately accounted for the largely contemporaneous diffusion of access to abortion. Estimates using a new panel of data on state policies related to access to the pill and abortion indicate that while access to the pill may have played a role in the sexual revolution, it had little effect on the probabilities of entering into marriage and parenthood at a young age. In contrast, both the legalization of abortion and the enactment of laws permitting young unmarried women to consent to it led to substantial delays in marriage and motherhood.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6661

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, January.
    2. Edlund, Lena & Machado, Cecilia, 2011. "Pill Power: The Prequel," IZA Discussion Papers 5468, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. 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.
    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. Levine, Phillip B., 2003. "Parental involvement laws and fertility behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 861-878, September.
    6. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2012. "The Power of the Pill for the Next Generation: Oral Contraception's Effects on Fertility, Abortion, and Maternal and Child Characteristics," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(1), pages 37-51, February.
    7. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen & Michael L. Katz, 1996. "An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 277-317.
    8. Melanie Guldi, 2008. "Fertility effects of abortion and birth control pill access for minors," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 45(4), pages 817-827, November.
    9. Andrew Zuppann, 2012. "The Pill and Marital Stability," Working Papers 201310812, Department of Economics, University of Houston.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joelle Abramowitz, 2014. "Turning back the ticking clock: the effect of increased affordability of assisted reproductive technology on women’s marriage timing," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(2), pages 603-633, April.
    2. Theodore J. Joyce & Ruoding Tan & Yuxiu Zhang, 2012. "Back to the Future? Abortion Before & After Roe," NBER Working Papers 18338, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Inna Cintina & Morgen S. Johansen, 2014. "The Effect of Plan B on Teen Abortions: Evidence From the 2006 FDA Ruling," Working Papers 2014-1, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, University of Hawaii at Manoa, revised Jun 2014.
    4. Mølland, Eirin, 2016. "Benefits from delay? The effect of abortion availability on young women and their children," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 6-28.
    5. repec:eee:jhecon:v:55:y:2017:i:c:p:168-185 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Inna Cintina & Morgen S. Johansen, 2015. "The Effect Of Plan B On Teen Abortions: Evidence From The 2006 Fda Ruling," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 418-433, July.
    7. Martha J. Bailey & Jason M. Lindo, 2017. "Access and Use of Contraception and Its Effects on Women’s Outcomes in the U.S," NBER Working Papers 23465, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    abortion; contraception; fertility; marriage;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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    1. The Power of Abortion Policy: Re-Examining the Effects of Young Women's Access to Reproductive Control (JPE 2017) in ReplicationWiki


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