Though Republicans have traditionally talked a big game about entrepreneuring and innovating and whatnot, the uninhibited flow of infants from vaginas, it seems, has finally supplanted the uninhibited flow of money into personal checking accounts as the foundation of the GOP's platform. Otherwise, how could we possibly explain the hard line Republicans maintain against the White House's contraception mandate in light of the release of a multidecade study showing that access to the birth control pill over the past 50 years meant higher pay and better careers for women?
Researchers at the University of Michigan determined that women who had access to oral contraception — and thus exercised more autonomy over their birth control — tended to be better educated and better paid by about 8 percent 20 years later than women who couldn't get access to the pill. According to Martha J. Bailey, the study's lead author, "Arguably the pill had some pretty big benefits for these women."
The study, published as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research, used data from two long-term surveys, one looking at a health and the other at labor force outcomes (each survey tracked women for decades). The labor force study began in 1968 and included 4,300 women who were between the ages of 14 and 24 during their first interview. The group was last interviewed in 2003. Bailey and her colleagues were also able separate the pill's influence over long-term career success from the women's movement, equal opportunity laws, and state restrictions over birth control access during the 60s and 70s, comparing women whose states only permitted them access to the pill on their own at the age of 21 to those women who were able to get the pill without a parent's permission at 18. Unsurprisingly, women with earlier access to the pill tended to come from those less-restrictive states, and women from disadvantaged backgrounds tended to benefit the most from having access to oral contraception.
Lest all the apparently fecund and child-crazed members of the GOP think that a woman having a career means that she'll have less children, Bailey pointed out that early access to birth control tended not to affect the overall number of kids women would eventually have. "One thing I think is important to point out," she said, "is that we didn't see a change in the number of children these women had, but we did see changes in when they decided to have them. That slight delay in the birth of their first child translated into some pretty big gains in terms of lifetime earnings." So take heed, would-be Republican voters — just because a woman takes oral contraceptives in order to more easily navigate a career path, doesn't necessarily mean that she'll deprive America of the very children who could one day kick the back of your seat while you're trying to nap on a regional flight.
<a href="http://bottomline.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/29/10905591-access-to-pill-boosts-womens-earnings-studyAccess to pill boosts women's earnings" [MSNBC]