The Christian Right isn’t the only Enemy of Science

April 3rd, 2009 2 comments

I just ran into an older post on Grey and White Matter (James’ blog) today that caught my eye, and reminded me once more of the linguistically bewildered world in which we live. The post was in reference to Obama’s purported championing of “science,” in the wake of the undoubtedly anti-science Bush administration. Read more…

Categories: state power Tags:

Stupidity or Satire?: "Restore Economic Confidence by Robbing Banks" at the Huffington Post

March 26th, 2009 No comments

I was actually turking, working on Amazon’s Requester’s “Ask a Question” task when this article popped up: Restore Economic Confidence by Robbing Banks by Spencer Green. The article draws a parallel between our current economic crisis and the 60s bank robbing duo Bonnie & Clyde, suggesting that a new brand of “populist criminals stand up for all of us.”

The interesting thing about this article is that I can’t tell whether it’s a parody of Keynesianism, or it’s someone with a Keynesian viewpoint simply being facetious but still oblivious to the absurdities of his position. Reading it like a libertarian, I see good satire (which is basically true of any statist piece read as a consistent libertarian; it’s either something someone really written or really good satire of the nonsense people believe). Reading it as a real statist piece, it makes my stomach turn.

It’s posted under “Comedy News,” so I’m really thinking it’s satire, but I don’t know. Someone advise me?

Summary of The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women’s Career and Marriage Decisions, by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz (Part 6)

February 23rd, 2009 Comments off


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But actual marriage rates contradict this prediction.

3) Feminism: The most difficult supply side explanation is the resurgence of feminism; the empowerment of women to see themselves as equal to male peers prompted them to aim for different life paths, which included careers. A demand-side explanation can also be offered, with employers desiring female employees more, which include sexual discrimination legislation and the ending of Vietnam war draft deferments. However, anti-discrimination legislation came too late after the pill to account for changes; further, medical and dental schools should have seen a surge in male applicants in 1973 (the end of the draft) that would have squeezed out female applicants, but the upsurge in female applicants began around 1970. Lastly, the demand-side explanations fail to account for other related changes, specifically the rise in sexual activity among single women in 1970.

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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 (Part 5)

February 23rd, 2009 Comments off


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Column 4 mirrors column 2, except the abortion law variable is replaced by a continuous measure, abortion rate in an individual’s state of birth when the individual was 18-21. The estimates show a large negative and statistically significant impact. Changes in access to abortion can explain a 2.6% decrease in the fraction marrying by 23 from the pre-1949 to the 1957 birth cohorts. The continuous measure reduces the magnitude and significance of the abortion law dummy.

e. Column 5 shows that the inclusion of state of birth linear time trends restores the significant effect of birth control access, and the abortion rate effect becomes small and insignificant.

f. Columns 6 and 7 include dummies for earliest age of legal access to birth control for each state of birth and year of birth group. Pill access by age 17 has a significant negative effect on the dependent variable in models including and not including state of birth trends and abortion access controls. Column 8 preserves these results, even when the sample is expanded to contain all women with at least one year of college.

g. Column 9 shows significant negative effects of pill access by age 17 and 18-20 on marriage by 23 when the sample contains all with at least some college.

2) Career and Marital Status Outcomes: Aggregate Cohort Analysis

a. Lacking an ideal data set containing information on pill access and usage, educational investments, and life cycle career attainment and medical status, Katz and Goldin rely on an aggregate cohort analysis based on U.S. population censuses from 1970, 1980, and 1990.

b. Analysis: unit of analysis is age/year cell; 20 age groups (30-49) across three census years, yielding 60 observations and covering 1921-1960 birth cohorts of college graduate women born in the U.S.

c. Regression: Share of age group a experiencing a particular career or marital status outcome in year t age dummies census year dummies race controls measure of access/usage of birth control as young women measure of access/usage of abortion as young women.

d. The intuition for the specification is to observe successive cohorts at the same ages and see whether changes from one cohort to the other in pill and abortion access had a relationship to changes in career and marital status.






IV. The Case for the Power of the Pill

1) Despite the 1960 approval of the pill by the FDA and its rapid spread among married women, legal barriers prevented young, unmarried women from using the pill until the late 60s to early 70s

2) The lowering of the age of majority and increase in the rights of minors played a key role.

3) More lenient laws led to greater use of the pill, directly producing an increase in the age at first marriage and the fraction of women entering professional schools (and hence entering professional careers).

V. Alternative Explanations

1) Abortion: oral contraceptives had a far wider effect than abortion. College women did not depend on abortion as they did on the pill for safe, effective, and painless contraception.

2) Changes in the sex ratio (the ratio of men to women of marriageable age): the ratio may affect female marriage rates and incentives to invest in careers. Since women typically married men 2-3 years older, women born early in the baby boom should have faced poorer marriage market conditions than did those born later.

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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 (Part 4)

February 23rd, 2009 Comments off


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Fig. 4.—First-year female professional students as a percentage of female B.A.’s (panel A) and as a fraction of first-year students (panel B). Source: B.A. degrees: U.S. Department of Education (1998), table 244. First-year medical students: Journal of the American Medical Association (various years 1978–98). First-year law students: American Bar Association web site ( First professional degrees in dentistry: U.S. Department of Education (1998), table 259. Earned degrees in business: U.S.Department of Education (1997), table 281. Note: Data for first-year dental and business students are derived from first professional degrees lagged four years for dental students and three years for business students. The data, for years of overlap, are similar to those for first-year students from Students Enrolled for Advanced Degrees (U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, various years). The procedure, moreover, produces values similar to those for medicine and law for which the first-year student time series exists.

2) Age at First Marriage, Sex, and Fertility Expectations

a. 50% of those born 1941-1949 married before age 23 (median college grad age is 22 years). After 1949, this fraction dropped. For those born 1957, the fraction married before 23 was 30%.

b. Examining registration cards for Harvard University Law School for entering classes 1962-1975 in light of the tradition of adopting the male’s last name after marriage, the fraction married at the time of law school graduation from 1964-1966 was about the national average, but from 1970-1972 was one-third the national average.

c. Evidence of sexual activeness is consistent with timing of pill availability, with sexual activity for women under 20 years increasing with cohorts born after 1947.


Fig. 5.—Fraction of college graduate women married before various ages. Source: Current

Population Survey, Fertility and Marital History Supplement, 1990 and 1995. Threeyear

centered moving averages are shown.


Fig. 6.—Fraction of never-married women having sex before various ages. Source: All

but the solid markers: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (1985).

Solid markers for birth cohorts of 1952, 1953, and 1954: Zelnik and Kantner (1989). Solid

markers for birth cohorts of 1957 and 1958: Inter-university Consortium for Political and

Social Research (1982). Three-year centered moving averages are shown. Solid markers,

of the same shape as the open markers, give the values for contemporaneous data.

B) Formal Econometric Analyses: Marital Status and Professional Career Outcomes

1) Age at First Marriage and State Law Changes in Pill Access

a. Regression: Married before 23 dummy race state restrictive birth control law at time when obs. was 18 dummy abortion legal when 18 state of birth dummy year of birth dummy

b. To compensate for possible endogeneity of birth control access to state feminist attitudes, controls for state of birth linear time trends are included. However, the states providing minors access to birth control without parental consent were so wide ranging that it’s more likely that idiosyncratic factors affected the passage of such laws instead of the strength of the women’s movement in those states.

c. Regression Results: Column 1 indicates that the adoption of non-restrictive birth control laws for minors was connected to a statistically significant but small (2 percent) decline in the probability that a college graduate woman was married before age 23. Column 2 shows similar effects on probability of marriage before age 23 between birth control and legalization of abortion. Column 3 demonstrates that the observed effect of access to birth control is consistent with (and even slightly augmented upwardly by) controlling for state of birth linear trends; the same, however, is not true for the abortion law variable.


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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 (Part 3)

February 23rd, 2009 Comments off


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States with more lenient regulations about regarding minors had greater pill use by young unmarried women. Pill use was 33-35% greater for 15-19 year olds in less restrictive states. 36-40% greater for 17-19.

Table 3


II. Frameworks to Understand the Effect of the Pill on Marriage and Career

1) There are two routes by which pill diffusion among young, single women could have affected career decisions: direct and indirect.

2) Direct Effect: The pill causes a reduction in the cost of marriage delay, and thus increase the value of a career; women with greater career potential become more attractive marriage partners. The pill is an unequivocal benefit to men; on average, it benefits women, but the group of women who would otherwise without the pill have married without a career lose out because they are sometimes matched to worse partners.

3) Indirect effect: The pill lowers the cost of a career through the marriage market. It thickens the marriage market for those who delay marriage and also leads to better matches for career women and some others.

a. An increase in the number of women who delay marriage, which the direct effect explains, has no effect on the decisions of other women.

b. A “social multiplier” effect is feasible: The pill produces a new equilibrium in which marriages are later, careers are more numerous, and matches are better as a result of couples not being pressured to marry too early. One possible theoretical implication is a reduction in the divorce rate.

4) This framework shows how the pill altered women’s career and marriage decisions. Up-front and intensive career investments are difficult for women with children, so the pill effectively removes this difficulty for women who want to engage in sexual relationships. Besides affecting careers, the pill, as an extremely effective contraceptive method, altered the marriage market. No longer was sex required to be packaged with commitment mechanisms, whether it was “going steady” or getting “engaged,” where if pregnancy occurred, the couple would follow up with marriage.

5) Central empirical predictions of this framework are that an increase in pill dissemination should be accompanied by an increase in professional careers for women, age at first marriage, and age at first birth. Predictions about divorce are ambiguous; while the pill should result in better matches, increased career prospects for women outside marriage, decreased division of labor in the home, and the greater likelihood of fewer children could all increase divorce rates.

III. Evidence for the Power of the Pill

A) Time Series: Career Investment, Marriage, Sex, and Fertility Expectations

1) Career Investment

a. Relevant careers to study are those that require extensive up front education, such as law, medicine, dentistry, and business administration.

b. Time-series data on professional schools is in two forms: as a share of women receiving a bachelor’s degree in the same year and as a share of total first-year enrollments in professional schools.

c. The fraction of female BAs entering law and medical schools began a steep climb around 1970. This increase peaked after approximately one decade.

d. In 1960, the fractions of women to all students in medicine, law, dentistry, and business administration were .1, .04, .01, and .03 respectively. In 1980, they were .3, .36, .19, and .28. This resulted in a large increase in women’s presence in those career fields in the following decades. The percentage of female lawyers and judges was 5.1 in 1970, 13.6 in 1980, and 29.7 percent in 2000. For physicians, it was 9.1, 14.1, and 27.9. Similar patterns followed for other professional occupations.

e. In the case of medical students, the change in career decisions of young women in 1970 did not result from a greater fraction of female applicants being admitted, but an actual increase in the number of female applicants.

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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 (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.

Read more…

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…

Categories: business, economics, gender issues Tags:

Rape Now *Officially* Part of Australian State-Sanctioned Violence

January 9th, 2009 1 comment

With all of these crimes being committed these days, why not use the pathetic moral condition of jails as part of the punishment? Well, so advocates one Magistrate in Australia:


SYDNEY (Reuters) – An Australian court has issued a blunt warning about the sexual predators a young driver faces in jail if he does not stop speeding, as authorities struggle to stop teenagers street racing.

“You’ll find big, ugly, hairy strong men (in jail) who’ve got faces only a mother could love that will pay a lot of attention to you — and your anatomy,” said Magistrate Brian Maloney.

Breaching any of these conditions would see the teenager jailed where he would “shower with the gorillas in the mist down at Long Bay jail,” said Maloney, his comments confirmed by the court on Tuesday.

As a result of not only failing to create a jail system that protects inmate rights, but also creating a jail system that generates repeat criminals due to the brutal environment of imprisonment, the Australian government apparently has no qualms with threatening criminals of all colors with crime it is responsible for creating. Read more…

Categories: police and crime, state power Tags: