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Access to Contraception Increases Women’s Education, Economic Outcomes

A new report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has found that access to contraceptive pills improves educational attainment levels and career outcomes for women.

Titled “The Economic Effects of Contraceptive Access: A Review of the Evidence”, the report attributed greater enrollment numbers and graduation rates for young women to the legalization of contraception.

Between 1970 to 1990, the pill access led to an increase in women’s college enrollment between 12 to 20 percent and women’s labor force participation by 15 percent.

The study examined legislative and funding changes in the 1960s and 1970s and found that the women during the same years became a growing share of professionals in careers like medicine and law. Those from selective colleges labor were able to reap more market benefits from the pill.

“Decades of scholarly evidence makes an ironclad case that affordable contraception is key to women’s education and career opportunities,” Kelly Jones, Director of IWPR’s Center on the Economics of Reproductive Health, said.

“Policymakers must understand and respect the scientific evidence and ensure that all women, including those with low incomes, have access to the health care they need to live their fullest lives.”

The researchers also found that women in their 30s and 40s who had access to contraceptive pills reported a jump in their wages in comparison to those who didn’t have access. For those in their 20s, the access to pill reduces the probability that a woman lived in poverty and contributes to a reduction in poverty in the future.

The report further noted the effect of pill access on the next generation. Due to retiming of births, children are most likely to be born to highly educated mothers and in turn, contributing to the less likelihood of them falling into the poverty trap.

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