The Impact of Title IX


With talk of Birch Bayh in the air, it seems appropriate to note some new research indicating that the expansion in girls’ sports opportunities has had substantial benefits:

States with large boys’ sports programs had to make bigger changes to achieve parity than states with smaller programs. Looking at the state-by-state statistics allowed Dr. Stevenson to narrow her focus, comparing differences in sports participation with differences in women’s educational and work achievement.

So her study untangles the effects of sports participation from other confounding factors — school size, climate, social and personal differences among athletes — and comes far closer to determining a cause and effect relationship between high school sports participation and achievement later in life.

Using a complex analysis, Dr. Stevenson showed that increasing girls’ sports participation had a direct effect on women’s education and employment. She found that the changes set in motion by Title IX explained about 20 percent of the increase in women’s education and about 40 percent of the rise in employment for 25-to-34-year-old women.

That’s a legacy you can be proud of. The same NYT item also notes Robert Kastner’s recent study showing substantial public health gains from Title IX. And it is worth emphasizing that even though I firmly believe that expanding access to health insurance will improve health outcomes, there’s very good reason to think that things outside the health care sphere would have bigger impact on health outcomes.