New research being done in Colorado indicates that cheap or free birth control can be a contributing factor to enhancing the future of young girls.
As the access to cheap birth control improved, the number of girls who were dropping out of high school prior to graduation dropped down in double digits. The rates of abortions and pregnancies also went down. In this study which is led by the University of Colorado at Boulder, researchers studied over 170,000 girls for over 7 years.
Amanda Stevenson shared in a news release by the university, “One of the foundational claims among people who support greater access to contraception is that it improves women’s ability to complete their education and, in turn, improves their lives. This study is the first to provide rigorous, quantitative, contemporary evidence that it’s true.” Amanda is an assistant professor and author in the sociology department.
The Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI) was launched in 2009. It increased access to cheap kinds of birth control such as oral contraceptives and condoms. It also made available the expensive long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) with implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
An unidentified donor, funded this Initiative with $27 million which augmented the funding for various clinics that were supported by Title X, a federal program that made available reproductive services for women with low incomes.
The abortion and birth rates in girls aged 15 – 19 went down by 50 % from 2009 – 2015. The rates also decreased for women aged 20 – 24 by 20%.
Researchers utilized the U.S. Census data to research additional impacts. They examined education degrees for over 5000 women living in Colorado. The comparison was performed considering women who went to high school prior to the implementation of the policy with those that went to high school when the policy was active. The researchers found similar changes in the girls’ outcomes who were in the same age bracket in over 17 states.
Colorado saw a 14% increase in girls who stayed back in school and finished their graduation. This means that girls born in 1994, 1995, & 1996 got their high school diploma by the time they were 20 – 22, which is around 3800 Colorado girls and all that happened, thanks to CFPI.
Amanda shared, “Supporting access to contraception does not eliminate disparities in high school graduation, but we find that it can contribute significantly to narrowing them.” Before the implementation of CFPI, the graduation rate in high schools in Colorado was 88 % which went up to 92% post CFPI. The program can be credited for half that rate. Most improvements were seen for Hispanic girls whose rates went up from 77% to 87%. CFPI is credited with a 5% increase.
Sara Yeatman shared in a release, “We think there is also an indirect effect. The confidence that you can control your own fertility can contribute to a young woman investing in her education and in her future.” Sara is the co-author and an associate professor in the behavioral science and health department in Denver, at the University of Colorado.