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Divorce and the birth control pill

  • MIRIAM MARCEN

This paper explores the role of the birth control pill on divorce. To identify its effect, we use a quasi experiment exploiting the differences in the language of the Comstock anti-obscenity statutes approved in the 1800s and early 1900s in the US. Results suggest that banning the sales of oral contraceptive methods has a negative impact on divorce. These findings are robust to alternative specifications and controls for observed (such as female labour force participation, or changes in the early legal access to the birth control pill) and unobserved state-specific factors, and time-varying factors at the state level. Additional analysis, developed to examine whether the impact of subsequent divorce law reforms on divorce is modified after controlling for the birth control pill effect, shows that, although sales bans matter, the impact of divorce law reforms on divorce rate does not vary.

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File URL: http://www-sre.wu.ac.at/ersa/ersaconfs/ersa13/ERSA2013_paper_00755.pdf
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Paper provided by European Regional Science Association in its series ERSA conference papers with number ersa13p755.

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Date of creation: Nov 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wiw:wiwrsa:ersa13p755
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  1. Justin Wolfers, 2003. "Did Unilateral Divorce Laws Raise Divorce Rates? A Reconciliation and New Results," NBER Working Papers 10014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Katz, Lawrence & Goldin, Claudia, 2002. "The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women’s Career and Marriage Decisions," Scholarly Articles 2624453, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Allen, Douglas W., 1998. "No-fault divorce in Canada: Its cause and effect," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 129-149, October.
  4. Edlund, Lena & Machado, Cecilia, 2011. "Pill Power: The Prequel," IZA Discussion Papers 5468, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Lucia A. Nixon, 1997. "The Effect of Child Support Enforcement on Marital Dissolution," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(1), pages 159-181.
  6. Leora Friedberg, 1998. "Did Unilateral Divorce Raise Divorce Rates? Evidence from Panel Data," NBER Working Papers 6398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. John M. Nunley, 2007. "Inflation and Other Aggregate Determinants of the Trend in U.S. Divorce Rates since the 1960s," Working Papers 200717, Middle Tennessee State University, Department of Economics and Finance.
  8. Martin Halla, 2013. "The Effect Of Joint Custody On Family Outcomes," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 278-315, 04.
  9. Namkee Ahn & Pedro Mira, . "A note on the changing relationship between fertility and female employment rates in developed countries," Studies on the Spanish Economy 13, FEDEA.
  10. Martha J. Bailey, 2009. ""Momma's Got the Pill": How Anthony Comstock and Griswold v. Connecticut Shaped U.S. Childbearing," NBER Working Papers 14675, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Dale Bremmer & Randy Kesselring, 2004. "Divorce and female labor force participation: Evidence from times-series data and cointegration," Atlantic Economic Journal, International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 32(3), pages 175-190, September.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Gary S. Becker, 1981. "A Treatise on the Family," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number beck81-1, October.
  15. Smith, Ian, 1997. "Explaining the Growth of Divorce in Great Britain," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 44(5), pages 519-44, November.
  16. 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.
  17. Silvia Pezzini, 2005. "The Effect of Women's Rights on Women's Welfare: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages C208-C227, 03.
  18. Elizabeth Oltmans Ananat & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2007. "The Power of the Pill for the Next Generation," NBER Working Papers 13402, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. 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.
  20. Finn Christensen, 2012. "The pill and partnerships: the impact of the birth control pill on cohabitation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 29-52, January.
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