Jeremy Greenwood, Nezih Guner, Karen Kopecky, 22 January 2020

Increased access to birth control does not seem to have decreased the number of unplanned pregnancies. Instead, as contraceptive technology improved over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, the percentage of non-marital births in the US rose. This column uses a marital search model to make sense of this seeming paradox, and concludes that advancements in contraception led to more premarital sex, an increase in out-of-wedlock births, and a decline in the fraction of the married population.

Jeremy Greenwood, Jesús Fernández-Villaverde, Nezih Guner, 20 February 2010

Attitudes to sex have changed dramatically over the last hundred years. This column presents a model where socialisation – the passing on of norms and ideologies by parents and institutions such as the church or state – is determined by the technological environment in which people live. Contraception has reduced the chance of unwanted pregnancies from premarital sex, and this in turn has changed social attitudes.


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