The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions

Posted: 3 Dec 2002

See all articles by Claudia Goldin

Claudia Goldin

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Lawrence F. Katz

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Abstract

The fraction of U.S. college graduate women entering professional programs increased substantially just after 1970, and the age at first marriage among all U.S. college graduate women began to soar around the same year. We explore the relationship between these two changes and the diffusion of the birth control pill ('the pill') among young, unmarried college graduate women. Although the pill was approved in 1960 by the Food and Drug Administration and spread rapidly among married women, it did not diffuse among young, single women until the late 1960s after state law changes reduced the age of majority and extended 'mature minor' decisions. We present both descriptive time series and formal econometric evidence that exploit cross-state and cross-cohort variation in pill availability to young, unmarried women, establishing the 'power of the pill' in lowering the costs of long-duration professional education for women and raising the age at first marriage.

Suggested Citation

Goldin, Claudia and Katz, Lawrence F., The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women's Career and Marriage Decisions. Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 110, August 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=318203

Claudia Goldin

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3934 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-588-0356 (Phone)
617-868-2742 (Fax)

Lawrence F. Katz (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Room 215
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-5148 (Phone)
617-868-2742 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/katz/katz

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
681
PlumX Metrics