News Release 

Expanded contraception access led to higher graduation rates for young women in Colorado

The impact of contraceptive access on high school graduation

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Research News

Increased access to birth control led to higher graduation rates among young women in Colorado, according to a study following the debut of the 2009 Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CPFI). The study identified a statistically significant 1.66 percentage-point increase in high school graduation among young women one year after the initiative was introduced. The findings provide concrete evidence for the rationale behind the U.S. Title X program, which calls for access to reproductive health services for low-income and uninsured residents, in part to help ensure women's ability to complete their education. However, at a time when funding for family planning programs is debated, robust scientific evidence to support this claim has been lacking. To investigate the link between access to contraception and educational attainment for women, Amanda Stevenson and colleagues explored the impact of the CPFI, which provided funding that made contraceptives available in Colorado Title X family planning clinics at low or no cost. The researchers calculated the percentage of women between the ages of 20 and 22 who had earned at least a high school diploma based on the 2009 to 2017 American Community Survey, calculating separate percentages for women who lived in Colorado in 2010 (shortly after CFPI was introduced) and those who lived in 17 other states. They found that CFPI reduced the percentage of Colorado women without a high school diploma by 14%, estimating that an additional 3,800 women received high school diplomas by their early 20s. "That family planning programs reduce fertility is well-established," Stevenson et al. write. "This fact, however, is insufficient as evidence that family planning programs positively affect women's socioeconomic opportunities. We now provide that crucial evidence."


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