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

Publication Abstract

Bailey, Martha J. 2006. "More Power to the Pill: The Impact of Contraceptive Freedom on Women's Labor Supply." Quarterly Journal of Economics, 121(1): 289-320.

The release of Enovid in 1960, the first birth control pill, afforded U. S. women unprecedented freedom to plan childbearing and their careers. This paper uses plausibly exogenous variation in state consent laws to evaluate the causal impact of the pill on the timing of first births and extent and intensity of women's labor-force participation. The results suggest that legal access to the pill before age 21 significantly reduced the likelihood of a first birth before age 22, increased the number of women in the paid labor force, and raised the number of annual hours worked.

DOI:10.1162/qjec.2006.121.1.289 (Full Text)

Country of focus: United States of America.

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