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Martha J. Bailey photo

The Opt-In Revolution? Contraception and the Gender Gap in Wages

Publication Abstract

Bailey, Martha J., Brad Hershbein, and A. Miller. 2012. "The Opt-In Revolution? Contraception and the Gender Gap in Wages." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 4(3): 225-254.

Decades of research on the US gender gap in wages describes its correlates, but little is known about why women changed their career paths in the 1960s and 1970s. This paper explores the role of "the Pill" in altering women's human capital investments and its ultimate implications for life-cycle wages. Using state-by-birth-cohort variation in legal access, we show that younger access to the Pill conferred an 8 percent hourly wage premium by age 50. Our estimates imply that the Pill can account for 10 percent of the convergence of the gender gap in the 1980s and 30 percent in the 1990s.

DOI:10.1257/app.4.3.225 (Full Text)

PMCID: PMC3684076. (Pub Med Central)

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