WASHINGTON (November 17, 2021)—States and the federal government are continually finding ways to reduce health care costs and improve health outcomes. Contraceptive access is one primary component of this equation for women, and policymakers must be aware of the ways that contraceptive access affects individuals, families and society as a whole.

Studies have strongly demonstrated the ability of unintended pregnancy prevention programs to improve women’s economic and educational prospects, and to expand their ability to plan for families. Yet, contraceptive access is still a challenge, largely because many of the most effective methods are unnecessarily behind a prescription barrier.

In a new policy short, R Street’s Courtney Joslin and Andrew Kim of Harvard University find that increased access to effective contraception means women are less likely to depend on government assistance in the future, especially when teen pregnancy is avoided.

This short is the first of a two-part series on the relationship between contraceptive access and economic mobility. This series emphasizes two lenses—the individual and the societal costs associated with varying levels of contraceptive access—that highlight how contraceptive access has a holistic effect on individuals, families and communities.

Most know the benefits that contraception has on preventing unwanted pregnancies, but contraception is also shown to lower divorce rates, improve maternal and infant health outcomes and improve lifetime earnings potential.

“The economic benefits of contraceptive use are sometimes overlooked, but consistent and effective family planning has a notable impact on individual economic prospects,” said Joslin and Kim.

Read the policy short here.

Top 3 Points

  1. Studies have strongly demonstrated the ability of unintended pregnancy prevention programs to improve women’s economic and educational prospects, and to expand their ability to plan for families. Yet, contraceptive access is still a challenge, largely because many of the most effective methods are unnecessarily behind a prescription barrier.

  2. Increased access to effective contraception means women are less likely to depend on government assistance in the future, especially when teen pregnancy is avoided.

  3. Most know the benefits that contraception has on preventing unwanted pregnancies, but contraception is also shown to lower divorce rates, improve maternal and infant health outcomes and improve lifetime earnings potential.