The Washington Post

The economics of birth control

We find that the three- to ten-fold increase in the price of the Pill reduced the use of oral contraception by 1 to 1.8 percentage points, on average, or 2 to 4 percent, among college women. These findings are consistent with previous literature that documents small price elasticities for contraception in other contexts.

We also find evidence that the reduction in the use of the Pill was significantly stronger for women without health insurance, women with credit card debt, and older women. We find some evidence of substitution towards non-prescription birth control methods and emergency contraception among those same women, as well as a reduction in the number of sexual partners, particularly among frequent sex participants. We find minimal evidence of changes in STI infection or accidental pregnancy.

Read the full paper here. It’s worth noting that this paper only looks at women’s use of oral contraceptives, not other forms of birth control that can be significantly more expensive.


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