The Supply of Birth Control Methods, Education and Fertility: Evidence from Romania

Cristian Pop-Eleches, Columbia University

This paper investigates the effect of the supply of birth control methods on fertility behavior by exploring the effects of Romania's 23-year period of continued pronatalist policies. In 1966, the Romanian government abruptly made abortion and family planning illegal. This policy was sustained until December 1989 with only minor modifications. The implementation and repeal of the restrictive regime provide a useful and plausibly exogenous source of variation in the cost of birth control methods that is arguably orthogonal to the demand for children. Women who spent most of their reproductive years under the restrictive regime experienced large increases in fertility. Less educated women had bigger increases in fertility after policy implementation and larger fertility decreases following the lifting of restrictions in 1989, when fertility differentials between educational groups decreased by almost fifty percent. These findings strongly suggest that access to abortion and birth control are quantitatively significant determinants of fertility levels, particularly for less educated women.

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Presented in Session 87: Economic Factors and Child Development II