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The Children of the Missed Pill

Author

Listed:
  • Tomás Rau
  • Miguel Sarzosa
  • Sergio S. Urzúa

Abstract

We use sharp, massive and unexpected price increases of oral contraceptives—product of a documented case of collusion among pharmaceutical retailers in Chile—as a natural experiment to estimate the impact of access to the Pill on fertility and newborn health. Our empirical strategy combines multiple sources of information and takes into account the seasonality of conceptions and the general trends of fertility, as well as the dynamics that arise after interrupting Pill's intake. Our estimates suggest that due to the price hike, the weekly birth rate increased by 4%. We show large effects on the number of children born to unmarried mothers, from mothers in their early 20's, and to primiparae women. Moreover, we find evidence of significant deterioration of newborn health as measured by the incidence of low birthweight and infant mortality. We suggest that the “extra” conceptions faced dire conditions during gestation as a result of mothers' unhealthy behaviors. In addition, we document a disproportional increase of 27% in the weekly miscarriage and stillbirth rates, which we interpret as manifestations of active efforts of termination in a country where abortion was illegal. As the “extra” children reached school age, we find lower school enrollment rates and higher participation in programs for students with special needs. Our results suggest that access to contraceptives may prevent conceptions that will turn out to be in relatively poor health, and thereby may improve the average health of children conceived.

Suggested Citation

  • Tomás Rau & Miguel Sarzosa & Sergio S. Urzúa, 2017. "The Children of the Missed Pill," NBER Working Papers 23911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23911
    Note: CH DEV HE IO
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2005. "The More the Merrier? The Effect of Family Size and Birth Order on Children's Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 669-700.
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    3. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2007. "From the Cradle to the Labor Market? The Effect of Birth Weight on Adult Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 409-439.
    4. Alan I. Barreca & Melanie Guldi & Jason M. Lindo & Glen R. Waddell, 2011. "Saving Babies? Revisiting the effect of very low birth weight classification," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 2117-2123.
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    6. Janet Currie, 2011. "Inequality at Birth: Some Causes and Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(3), pages 1-22, May.
    7. Kasey S. Buckles & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2018. "The Incidental Fertility Effects of School Condom Distribution Programs," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 37(3), pages 464-492, June.
    8. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother's Education and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532.
    9. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1994:84:3:411-414_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Dumas, Christelle & Lefranc, Arnaud, 2013. ""Sex in Marriage is a Divine Gift": For Whom? Evidence from the Manila Contraceptive Ban," IZA Discussion Papers 7503, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
    • L4 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices

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