birth control pill

The Economic Impact of Birth Control

by Yvette Carnell

Much of the attention given to the asinine birth control debate has centered around Catholicism vs. Women’s Health, and when that’s not at the center of the firestorm, it’s the Republican fiction – pushed by Limbaugh – that somehow the taxpayer is footing the bill for the pill.

The bigger issue though, the one largely absent from the debate, is how birth control has liberated women economically. Enter New York Times’ Economix blog to set the record straight:

Indeed, as the economist Betsey Stevenson has noted, a number of studies have shown that by allowing women to delay marriage and childbearing, the pill has also helped them invest in their skills and education, join the work force in greater numbers, move into higher-status and better-paying professions and make more money over all.

One of the most influential and frequently cited studies of the impact the pill has had on women’s lives comes from Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz. The two Harvard economists argue that the pill gave women “far greater certainty regarding the pregnancy consequences of sex.” That “lowered the costs of engaging in long-term career investments,” freeing women to finish high school or go to college, for instance, rather than settling down.

And certainty around birth control isn’t something that right wingers want women to have. They’d much rather the “barefoot and pregnant” era, where women’s futures and careers were up in the air, or better yet, in the hands of men.

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