Documenting The Significant Social and Economic Benefits of Contraception

March 22, 2013 • Family Planning, United States, News

Empowering Women to Time and Space Childbearing Is Linked to a Wide Range of Positive Outcomes-But Not All Women Benefit Equally

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The ability to delay and space childbearing is crucial to women’s societal and economic advancement, according to a new Guttmacher Institute review of the scientific literature. The review, which examined the body of evidence on the impact of contraceptive use, underscores that women’s ability to obtain and effectively use contraceptives has a positive impact on their education and workforce participation, as well as on subsequent outcomes related to income, family stability, mental health and happiness, and the well-being of their children.

“The scientific evidence strongly confirms what has long been obvious to women,” says Adam Sonfield, lead author of the literature review. “Contraceptive use, and the ensuing ability to decide whether and when to have children, is linked to a host of benefits for themselves, the quality of their relationships, and the well-being of their children. But the evidence also suggests that the most disadvantaged women in our society do not fully share in these benefits, which is why unintended pregnancy prevention efforts need to be grounded in broader antipoverty and social justice efforts.”

The body of literature reviewed by Guttmacher experts consists of 66 studies conducted over the past three decades and documents outcomes that include:

  • Educational attainment: Legal access to contraception contributed significantly to more young women obtaining at least some college education and to more college-educated women pursuing advanced professional degrees.
  • Workforce participation: Historically, the pill was a driving force behind significantly more young women participating in the labor force, including jobs requiring advanced education and training.
  • Economic stability: Access to contraception significantly contributed to increasing women’s earning power and to decreasing the gender pay gap.

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