2009 in Colorado the public health department has launched an initiative that has helped family planning clinics expand access to cheap or free contraception and protect reproductive health. Until 2016, the birth rate of the state it fell 54 percent for women aged 15 to 19 years and abortion rate fell by 63 percent among the same age group.
“We were shocked by the reduction in abortions and unintentional pregnancies, but happy that it had such an effect,” says Angela Fellers LeMire, interim head of the family planning program in Colorado, who oversaw the initiative. “Everyone in the field and in the state health department felt good about the work we were doing.”
The study is now published in May Scientific progress shows that the Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI) had another advantage: More young women graduated from high school. The researchers conducted the research on the campuses of the University of Colorado at Boulder and Denver, in collaboration with those from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Using the condition American community research and other census data from 2009 to 2017, the authors compared graduation rates in Colorado before and after the state adopted a family planning program with those in 17 other states without such policies. Researchers estimated that the program reduced the percentage of women in Colorado between the ages of 20 and 22 without a high school diploma by 14 percent. This resulted in an estimated 3,800 women born between 1994 and 1996 who completed high school by the early 1920s.
“As someone who studies this topic, I was surprised. I didn’t expect to see this effect, “said study lead author Amanda Stevenson, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder.
For decades, the link between the approach to birth control and educational or other achievements has been largely anecdotal. Part of the rationale for the family planning program, including federal title X program– what provides reproductive health services, including birth control, to low-income and uninsured residents – is that fertility control offers other potential socio-economic benefits, such as the ability for people to complete their education. The new study, says Emily Johnston, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, which conducts economic and social policy research, “addresses a question that has long been of interest to the field: What are the impacts, other than fertility, on people’s lives? ”
“So far, evidence of the effects of contraception on women’s education and opportunities comes from the 1960s and 1970s, but a lot has changed since then,” wrote Martha Bailey, a professor of economics at the University of California, Los Angeles. WIRED in an email. “This paper shows that access to contraception can still help women seize opportunities and increase their chances in the job market.”
Determining whether access to birth control — unlike other variables such as access to abortion or adoption services, school quality, fertility rates, or attendance at school programs for pregnant women — was key to contributing to higher graduation rates, the authors compared Colorado changes with that string of 17 other states. (The countries of comparison were Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.) These countries had similar overall graduation rates and government policies, such as extended Medicaid insurance. “Anything is possible, but we haven’t found any policy change that has affected these factors,” Stevenson says.
Another factor that could have affected pregnancies and graduation rates would have ended if teenagers had become less sexually active. But, Johnston says, Colorado is unlikely to be unique. “You should have reason to believe that sexual activity has changed in different ways in different states,” she says.