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The Pill and Partnerships: The impact of the birth control pill on cohabitation

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  • Finn Christensen

    (Department of Economics, Towson University)

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact on cohabitation behavior of the introduction and dispersion of the birth control pill in the US during the 1960s and early 1970s. A theoretical model generates several predictions that are tested using the first wave of the National Survey of Families and Households. Empirically, the causal effect is identified by exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in state laws granting access to the pill to unmarried women under age 21. The evidence shows that the pill was a catalyst that increased cohabitation's role in selecting marriage partners, but did little in the short run to promote cohabitation as a substitute for marriage.

Suggested Citation

  • Finn Christensen, 2010. "The Pill and Partnerships: The impact of the birth control pill on cohabitation," Working Papers 2010-02, Towson University, Department of Economics, revised Feb 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:tow:wpaper:2010-02
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    File URL: http://webapps.towson.edu/cbe/economics/workingpapers/2010-02.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Michael J. Brien & Lee A. Lillard & Steven Stern, 2006. "Cohabitation, Marriage, And Divorce In A Model Of Match Quality," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(2), pages 451-494, May.
    2. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2007. "Marriage and Divorce: Changes and their Driving Forces," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 27-52, Spring.
    3. 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.
    4. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
    5. Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1802-1820, December.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    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. Pierre-André Chiappori & Sonia Oreffice, 2008. "Birth Control and Female Empowerment: An Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(1), pages 113-140, February.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Marcén, Miriam, 2012. "Divorce and the birth control pill," MPRA Paper 35955, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Martha J. Bailey & Olga Malkova & Zoë M. McLaren, 2016. "Does Family Planning Increase Children’S Opportunities? Evidence From The War On Poverty And The Early Years Of Title X," Working Papers 16-29, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    3. Martha J. Bailey & Olga Malkova & Zoë M. McLaren, 2017. "Does Parents’ Access to Family Planning Increase Children’s Opportunities? Evidence from the War on Poverty and the Early Years of Title X," NBER Working Papers 23971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Pinka Chatterji & Xiangshi Liu & Barış K. Yörük, 2019. "The effects of the 2010 Affordable Care Act dependent care provision on family structure and public program participation among young adults," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 1133-1161, December.
    5. Martha J. Bailey & Melanie Guldi & Brad J. Hershbein, 2014. "Is There a Case for a "Second Demographic Transition?" Three Distinctive Features of the Post-1960 Fertility Decline," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Leah Boustan & Carola Frydman & Robert Margo (ed.),Human Capital in History: The American Record, pages 273-312, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    6. Martha J. Bailey, 2013. "Fifty Years of Family Planning: New Evidence on the Long-Run Effects of Increasing Access to Contraception," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 44(1 (Spring), pages 341-409.
    7. Martha Bailey & Olga Malkova & Zoë McLaren, 2016. "Does Family Planning Increase Children's Opportunities? Evidence from the War on Poverty and the Title X," Sciences Po publications 57, Sciences Po.
    8. Damian Clarke, 2018. "Children And Their Parents: A Review Of Fertility And Causality," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(2), pages 518-540, April.
    9. Nayoung Rim, 2017. "The Effect of Title IX on Gender Disparity in Graduate Education," Departmental Working Papers 58, United States Naval Academy Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Early legal access to the pill; cohabitation; marriage trends;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J12 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure

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