The Contraceptive Pill [50 Things That Made the Modern Economy]

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Humans have sex. A potential consequence of sex is pregnancy. When pregnancy is unwanted, people come up with creative ways to prevent it. Crocodile dung. Half a lemon as a cervical cap.

The birth control pill is one of those pregnancy-prevention systems.  Under typical use, the failure rate for the pill is 6%, versus an 18% failure rate for condoms.  The sponge and diaphragm have failure rates similar to condoms.  When the pill is used optimally, the failure rate is even lower.

What I found most interesting about this episode was learning about the profound social and economic effects the pill had on society, especially for women.  First, for married women; and then, for young, unmarried women.

The pill was first approved in 1960, but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that its availability expanded.  I came of age about the same time birth control became “the most popular form of contraception for 18 and 19-year-old women in the United States.” And this is when the economic impact started to be felt.

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