Policy Studies Competition Policy

Economic Mobility and Contraceptive Access: Individual Effects


Courtney Joslin
Resident Fellow and Senior Manager, Competition Policy

Key Points

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.

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

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.

Press Release

Access to Contraceptives Gives People Economic Mobility

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This policy brief is 1 of a 2-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.


Contraception is a groundbreaking achievement in modern public health, yet delivery models in the United States are overly restrictive. Leading women’s and family health organizations, such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Medical Association maintain that current prescription requirements for many hormonal contraceptive methods are unnecessary.

Research on the costs of obtaining birth control consistently shows that women, particularly low-income and uninsured women, have trouble accessing their preferred methods of birth control. Research further demonstrates that lowering barriers by eliminating some prescription requirements would allow more women to access their preferred method of birth control.

The economic benefits of contraceptive use are sometimes overlooked, but consistent and effective family planning has a notable impact on individual economic prospects. This policy brief highlights the relationship between contraceptive access, contraceptive use, and economic outcomes as they pertain to the individual. The relationship between these factors is important for setting policy agendas that work to improve the economic prospects of women and to reduce unnecessary health care burdens.

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