Last week, with a lot of help from the Roosevelt Instutute’s Bryce Covert, we looked at how access to contraception has benefited the economy, as having more women in the workforce significantly boosted U.S. GDP. In fact, according to McKinsey, the increase in women’s workforce participation since the 1970s has grown the economy by 25 percent, “an amount equal to the combined GDP of Illinois, California and New York.”
Today, the New York Times’ Annie Lowery points to a study by researchers at the Universities of Michigan and Virginia which found that access to contraception also helped close the gender pay gap:
A study by Martha J. Bailey, Brad Hershbein and Amalia R. Miller helps assign a dollar value to those tectonic shifts. For instance, they show that young women who won access to the pill in the 1960s ended up earning an 8 percent premium on their hourly wages by age 50.
Such trends have helped narrow the earnings gap between men and women. Indeed, the paper suggests that the pill accounted for 30 percent – 30 percent! – of the convergence of men’s and women’s earnings from 1990 to 2000.
But of course, the pay gap persists, despite measures passed by the Obama administration to help address it. In 2010, women’s wages were about 77.4 percent of men’s, and the gap is even larger for African American and Latino women. Women make less than their male counterparts in all 50 states, with Wyoming having the worst disparity, at 63.8 percent.
As ThinkProgress’ Travis Waldron noted, “because of the gender pay gap, women with the same education doing the same job as men earn far less over their working lifetimes. The wage gap costs $723,000 over a 40-year career for women with college degrees. In some industries, the gap can cost women close to a million dollars.” So while access to contraception and family planning has certainly helped, there’s still a long way to go to ensure gender equality in the workplace.