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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 4 No. 3 (July 2012)

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

Article Citation

Bailey, Martha J., Brad Hershbein, and Amalia R. Miller. 2012. "The Opt-In Revolution? Contraception and the Gender Gap in Wages." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 4(3): 225-54.

DOI: 10.1257/app.4.3.225

Abstract

Decades of research on the US gender gap in wages describes its correlates, but little is known about why women changed their career paths in the 1960s and 1970s. This paper explores the role of "the Pill" in altering women's human capital investments and its ultimate implications for life-cycle wages. Using state-by-birthcohort variation in legal access, we show that younger access to the Pill conferred an 8 percent hourly wage premium by age 50. Our estimates imply that the Pill can account for 10 percent of the convergence of the gender gap in the 1980s and 30 percent in the 1990s. (JEL J13, J16, J31, J71, J24)

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Authors

Bailey, Martha J. (U MI)
Hershbein, Brad (U MI)
Miller, Amalia R. (U VA)

JEL Classifications

J13: Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
J24: Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
J31: Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
J71: Labor Discrimination

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