Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

Summary of The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women’s Career and Marriage Decisions, by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz (Part 2)

February 23rd, 2009 Comments off


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Further, “mature minors” were allowed access to contraceptive methods by judicial decision and statute.


Fig. 1.—Fraction of college graduate women first taking the pill at various ages (among

those with no births before age 23). Source: Inter-university Consortium for Political and

Social Research (1990). Three-year centered moving averages are shown.


Fig. 2.—Fraction of college graduate women receiving first family planning services at

various ages (among those not married by age 22). Source: Inter-university Consortium

for Political and Social Research (1985). Three-year centered moving averages are shown.

4) After these legal changes, the pill diffused rapidly among single women. Despite health scares, use of the pill has persisted.

5) While state laws did not stop a determined single woman from getting the pill, in the 1960s states attempted to directly regulate the sale of contraceptives.

a. 30 states prohibited advertisements regarding birth control and 22 had a general prohibition on contraceptive sales, often reflective of state social norms.

b. Social norms provide a data problem: there are few surveys that inquired about contraceptive use, as young unmarried women were not expected to be having sexual intercourse.

6) First Data Set National Health Interview Study (NHIS): ~13,000 women interviewed in 1987, and asked about their history of birth control usage. No age at first marriage, but age of first birth.

7) Second Data Set: National Survey of Family Growth, Cycle III (1982). Because of the drawback of the NHIS not having age at first marriage. NSFG asks about age of first marriage and first use of family planning services, but not about first pill use.

8) Consistent Results: Both data sets show that among women who would eventually graduate from college, the increase in contraceptive services for those of college age began with cohorts born around 1948.

9) Third Data Set: National Survey of Young Women 1971 (NSYW71). 4,611 young women 15-19 in 1971.

10) Fourth Data Set: National Survey of Adolescent Female Sexual Behavior 1976 (NSAF76). Also of young women 15-19, but half as large.

11) Comparisons between reported pill usage in NSYW71 and NHIS, and between NSAF76 and NHIS, show close results (33 and 34%, and 48.2% and 51.2, respectively). This provides good evidence that women accurately recall when they first took the pill.

12) Peak usage among married women occurred a half decade before rapid diffusion began for single women; one explanation for this difference concerns the state laws that affected the age of majority and mature minor rights. When these state laws changed, the period of most rapid increase in pill use occurred for unmarried women.

B) State Variation in Laws Affecting Contraceptive Services

1) In most states, physicians were required to obtain parental consent to issue nonemergency procedures (including contraceptive services) to minors.

2) After 1969, and the passage of the 26th amendment in light of the Vietnam war, the age of majority was lowered in almost all states, and “mature minor” classifications allowed family planning services to be used by minors without parental approval.

3) The legal ambiguity in the 1960s was actually an incentive for universities not to provide family planning services. Family planning in college is critical, as it comes at a time when career, marriage, and family decisions are being made.

4) According to the American College Health Association, 3.6% of reporting institutions prescribed the pill to unmarried students in 1966. In 1973, 19% would provide FPS to students regardless of age and marital status. Larger schools had a higher fraction providing services, with an estimated 42% of undergraduates having access to such services.

C) The Impact of State Laws on Pill Use

1) Did states with more lenient laws regarding access to contraceptive services by minors have higher pill use by young unmarried women?


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Summary of The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women’s Career and Marriage Decisions, by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz

February 23rd, 2009 Comments off


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Harvard University and National Bureau of Economic Research

Central Question: Did the birth control pill and the legal environment that enabled young, unmarried women to obtain “the pill” alter women’s career plans and their age at first marriage? Answer: They did.


– Focusing on women’s age at first marriage and career changes, Katz and Goldin examine the differential effects of legal changes at important points in time and in different states.

– Legal changes in different states at different times not only lowered the age of majority, but also extended the rights of minors relating to parental consent for dispersion of non-emergency treatments, which included contraceptives.

– After establishing that pill diffusion among young and unmarried women was at least partially caused by legal changes, K&G show the relationship between pill use and age at first marriage and career investment by analyzing cohorts of women born 1921-1960. Alternative explanations, such as anti-discrimination laws, liberalization of abortion policy, and feminist influence on culture are also considered.

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Male Ego, Female Issues, or Miscommunication?: Women, the Workplace, and Self-Employment

January 11th, 2009 1 comment

A large amount of literature has recently been dedicated to gender roles in the workplace, particularly focusing on discrimination against women in the form of lost employment opportunities or lower wages. Whatever causes this phenomenon must also be responsible, to some degree, for the significant trend of female entrepreneurs creating solo enterprises. While social interactions and prejudices can account for this discrepancy, the very sensitive issue of productivity can also enter the equation. Specifically relevant to our question is not whether women are more or less productive than men, but whether men working with women are more or less productive than men with men or women with women.[1] Read more…

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More on the hilarity of "mixed economies": Hawaii quits out on child healthcare

October 18th, 2008 1 comment

Apparently, Hawaii’s hailed “universal child health care” initiative has been, well, uninitiated.

HONOLULU – Hawaii is dropping the only state universal child health care program in the country just seven months after it launched.

Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration cited budget shortfalls and other available health care options for eliminating funding for the program. A state official said families were dropping private coverage so their children would be eligible for the subsidized plan.

“People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free,” said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. “I don’t believe that was the intent of the program.”

Basically, this is an illustration of why mixed economies don’t work effectively. If the government guarantees a good or service of certain value to those who don’t have it, it will be exploited. More broadly, any entitlement system will be exploited because it’s simply economically stupid to do otherwise. If you can foist the cost of anything you need onto someone else and you don’t notice or have no moral qualms about the force involved, why wouldn’t you?

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Some politicians really care about the bailout plan: precisely, 54% in campaign contributions more than those who voted ‘no’

October 6th, 2008 No comments

In the ludicrous atmosphere of platitudes, slogans, and cliches, we certainly hear plenty about how the boys in Washington are off drafting a bailout, er, rescue, err, investment to save the U.S. economy. Yes, I’m sure Barack Obama and John McCain have some idea about how to spend $700 billion that doesn’t even exist – at least more than those banks do! And what about That Congress? Why, nothing but the amassed intellectual wealth of America, legislating for the common good.

They’re doing such a great job that the financial sector decided to throw a little "bonus money" their way – you know, to reward them for working for the common good and all.

This is how the government ‘protects’ the economy. The empirical evidence is in: large corporations don’t spend money for nothing.

But hey, "more regulation" and "the government needs to do something" are the calls of the day, especially among those young people. I wonder if they’ve noticed our national debt lately, have considered the notion of legislative corruption and regulatory capture, or thought about how a bailout might encourage companies to undercapitalize, even decades into the future, allowing them to play the upsides of risky investments and letting taxpayers take the rest. Oh wait.

The government should totally do something, like really.