NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Subsidized Contraception, Fertility, and Sexual Behavior

Melissa S. Kearney, Phillip B. Levine

NBER Working Paper No. 13045
Issued in April 2007
NBER Program(s):   CH   HE   LS   PE

This paper examines the impact of recent state-level Medicaid policy changes that expanded eligibility for family planning services to higher income women and to Medicaid clients whose benefits would expire otherwise. We begin by establishing that the income-based policy change led to a substantial increase in the number of program recipients. We then examine Vital Statistics birth data from 1990 to 2003 and determine that it also reduced overall births to non-teens by about two percent and to teens by over four percent. Our estimates suggest a nearly nine percent reduction in births to women age 20-44 made eligible by the policy change. We supplement our state-level analysis with an investigation of individual-level data from the 1988, 1995, and 2002 National Surveys of Family Growth (NSFG) to examine the impact of these policies on sexual behavior and contraceptive use. Evidence from this analysis suggests that the reduction in fertility associated with raising income thresholds for eligibility was accomplished via greater use of contraception. Our calculations indicate that allowing higher income women to receive federally-funded family planning cost on the order of $6,800 for each averted birth.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13045

Published: Melissa S Kearney & Phillip B Levine, 2009. "Subsidized Contraception, Fertility, and Sexual Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 137-151, October. citation courtesy of

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