More Power to the Pill: The Impact of Contraceptive Freedom on Women's Labor-Force Participation

Vanderbilt University Economics Working Paper No. 04-WG01R

30 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2005

See all articles by Martha J. Bailey

Martha J. Bailey

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 2005

Abstract

The release of Enovid in 1960, the first birth control pill, afforded U.S. women unprecedented freedom to plan childbearing and their careers, yet little is known about the impact of the pill on women's labor-force participation. This paper uses plausibly exogenous variation in state consent laws to evaluate the causal impact of oral contraception on the timing of first births and extent and intensity of women's market work. Using compiled legal data and the Current Population Surveys, my results suggest that early legal access to the pill significantly reduced the likelihood of a first birth before age 22. Among women in their twenties, early access increased the number of women in the paid market as well as the number of annual hours and weeks worked. The results suggest that birth control may have accelerated the growth in younger women's labor-force participation in the U.S. after 1970.

Keywords: birth control, participation, labor supply, pill, women

JEL Classification: J13, J22, N32

Suggested Citation

Bailey, Martha Jane, More Power to the Pill: The Impact of Contraceptive Freedom on Women's Labor-Force Participation (July 2005). Vanderbilt University Economics Working Paper No. 04-WG01R. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=652521 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.652521

Martha Jane Bailey (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States

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