series event

The educational impacts of expanded contraceptive access in the contemporary U.S.

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Contraception has long been credited with improving women’s lives. Beyond the introduction of the Pill, however, there is surprisingly little robust evidence in support of this claim. In the context of growing state-level attacks on contraceptive access in the U.S., this lack of evidence is both deeply concerning and problematic.

In the talk, Dr Sara Yeatman will introduce a large collaborative project designed to understand the complex impacts that contraception has on people’s lives. She will then present the results of one paper asking a narrower question: how does expanded access to contraception impact women’s attainment of a bachelor’s degree? To answer this question, they harness a natural experiment created by a policy that dramatically improved access to contraception in the U.S. state of Colorado between 2009 and 2014 and use individual-level longitudinal data created by combining eleven years of the American Community Survey with two full U.S. decennial censuses.

Results show that women exposed to the policy in late adolescence experienced substantial gains in university completion.


Professor Sara Yeatman, University of Colorado (on sabbatical at LSHTM)

Professor Sara Yeatman’s research focuses on the causes and consequences of unintended fertility and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and the United States. In current projects, she seeks to understand the meaning of unintended pregnancy for young women’s lives in Malawi. This research uses data from Tsogolo la Thanzi, her 10-year longitudinal study of young adults in southern Malawi. She is also collaborating with researchers at the CU Population Center to examine how expanded access to contraception impacts women’s and men’s lives in the United States.

  • Please note that you can join this event in person or you can join the session remotely
  • Please note that the session will not be recorded 


Free and open to all. No registration required.