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

  • Martha J. Bailey

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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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14675.pdf
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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
Note: DAE
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  1. Melanie Guldi, 2008. "Fertility effects of abortion and birth control pill access for minors," Demography, Springer, vol. 45(4), pages 817-827, November.
  2. 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.
  3. Shelly Lundberg & Robert A. Pollak, 2007. "The American Family and Family Economics," NBER Working Papers 12908, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  5. Pritchett, Lant H. & DEC, 1994. "Desired fertility and the impact of population policies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1273, The World Bank.
  6. Robert T. Michael & Robert J. Willis, 1976. "Contraception and Fertility: Household Production under Uncertainty," NBER Chapters, in: Household Production and Consumption, pages 25-98 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. 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, vol. 110(4), pages 730-770, August.
  8. Willis, Robert J, 1973. "A New Approach to the Economic Theory of Fertility Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S14-64, Part II, .
  9. 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.
  10. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
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