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Fifty Years of Family Planning: New Evidence on the Long-Run Effects of Increasing Access to Contraception

From: Brookings Papers on Economic Activity
Spring 2013
pp. 341-409 | 10.1353/eca.2013.0001

Abstract

Abstract:

This paper assembles new evidence on some of the longer-term benefits of U.S. family planning policies, defined in this paper as those increasing legal or financial access to modern contraceptives. The analysis leverages two large policy changes that occurred during the 1960s and 1970s: first, the interaction of the birth control pill's introduction with Comstock-era restrictions on the sale of contraceptives and the repeal of these laws after Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965; and second, the expansion of federal funding for local family planning programs from 1964 to 1973. Building on previous research that demonstrates both policies' effects on fertility rates, I find that individuals' access to contraceptives influenced their children's college completion, labor force participation, wages, and family incomes decades later.