Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parsing the Pill's impact on women's wages

Date:
March 27, 2012
Source:
University of Michigan
Summary:
About one-third of women's wage gains through the 1990s are due to the availability of oral contraceptives, according to a new study that's the first to quantify the Pill's impact on women's labor market advances.

Although women continue to lag behind men in pay, the gender wage gap has narrowed considerably since the 1960s. Now a new University of Michigan study is the first to quantify the impact of the pill on women's labor market advances.

The study shows that roughly one-third of women's wage gains through the 1990s are due to the availability of oral contraceptives.

Published online this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research as a working paper, the study was conducted by U-M economist Martha Bailey and colleagues Brad Hershbein at U-M and Amalia Miller at the University of Virginia.

"We found that women who had early access to the pill in the 1960s and 1970s earned 8 percent more on average by the 1980s and 1990s than women without early access," said Bailey, an assistant professor of economics in the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and a research affiliate at the U-M Institute for Social Research.

Bailey and colleagues analyzed the careers of approximately 4,300 women, born from 1943 to 1954, using the National Longitudinal Survey of Young Women. These women varied in their legal ability to obtain the pill from their doctors between the ages of 18 and 21

"The difficulty of parsing the pill's effect on women's careers relates to the timing of its appearance," Bailey said. "By cause or coincidence, the pill's diffusion coincided with important changes in norms and ideas about women's work and the end of the baby boom."

Bailey and colleagues developed a novel analytic strategy to answer this question. After the U.S. Federal Drug Administration approved the pill in 1960, laws in different states placed different age limits on when women could legally obtain it. As these laws changed in almost every state in the country, largely due to reducing the legal voting age to 18, the inadvertent side-effect was that women could obtain the pill at younger ages. This meant that women no longer had to decide between looking for a mate (and the risk of pregnancy) and investing in their educations and careers. They could do both.

The researchers found that early access laws doubled contraceptive pill use among women between the ages of 18 and 20 - precisely the ages affected by access laws - but not beyond age 21, when the laws did not bind. Pill use by age 18 was 140 percent higher, and by age 20 was 43 percent higher than national mean use at those ages.

"As the pill provided younger women the expectation of greater control over childbearing, women invested more in their human capital and careers," Bailey said. "Most affected were women with some college, who benefitted from these investments through remarkable wage gains over their lifetimes."

Their analysis shows that nearly two-thirds of these pill-access induced gains in wages were due to increasing labor-market experience; another third came through to greater educational attainment and entry in non-traditionally female occupations.

But even these results may not do justice to the over-arching importance of the pill.

"Our results may understate the pill's broader influence because they do not explore the effect of changes in access to the pill beyond age 20 and fail to capture the potentially large social multiplier effects," Bailey said. "The pill's availability likely altered norms and expectations about marriage and childbearing. It also likely affected the decisions of companies to hire and promote women."

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


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Michigan. "Parsing the Pill's impact on women's wages." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120327124810.htm>.
University of Michigan. (2012, March 27). Parsing the Pill's impact on women's wages. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120327124810.htm
University of Michigan. "Parsing the Pill's impact on women's wages." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120327124810.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins