The role of educational policy, sex education and contraceptives for gender equality

Session organizer/s: Annika Elwert and Volha Lazuka

Changing values on sexual behaviours in South-East Europe 1995–2020

Session: 5

Authors: Peter Gladoic Håkansson

Co-authors: Dubravka Gladoic Håkansson

Abstract: The dissolution of the Yugoslavian state and the formation of independent republics in the beginning of the 1990s, lead to a change in both formal institutions (laws, rules etc.) as well as informal institutions (norms, values etc.). As institutions are omitted and bounded by, as well as depending on, the nation state (see e.g., Acemoglu & Robinson, 2012; Olsen 1996), major changes in the nation state influence changes in the institutional framework. The aim of this article is to investigate how changing values on sexual behaviour and changing formal institutions have coincided. For this we use data from World Values Survey (WVS) for Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia 1995 and 2020. The research questions are:

  • In what way have values on sexual behaviour developed differently in Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia?

  • How have the change in values coincided with change in legislation in the three countries?

  • How have increasing religiousness and the role of the church coincided with changing values on sexual behaviours?

Using individual WVS-data, we estimate values on homosexuality, abortion, divorce in a logit regression, using religiousness, country, age, education and gender as explanatory variables. We find major differences in the development of the three countries. While Slovenia developed towards a more accepting society with a higher share of respondents finding the measured sexual behaviours justifiable, Croatia and Serbia developed the other way around. The share of respondents finding these sexual behaviours never justifiable have increased considerably in Croatia and Serbia, while they have decreased in Slovenia. The values on sexual behaviours are correlated with religiousness, and we find a positive correlation between “never justifiable” and religiousness. However, even though religiousness has increased in Croatia and Serbia, it cannot fully explain the change. A significant component remains connected to the nation state that drives us to the conclusion that this is specifically connected to change in formal institutions. These changes in formal institutions (i.e., legislation) we qualitatively and descriptively connect the changes in values. Notably, Slovenia has run a different policy, than Croatia and Serbia.

Life-cycle effects of sex education

Session: 5

Authors: Volha Lazuka

Co-authors: Annika Elwert

Abstract: We assess the impact of the sex education reform 1943-1958 in Sweden on a variety of socio-economic outcomes of the treated cohorts throughout their life cycles.

Sex and the Single Girl: The Pill and a Century of Unwed Childbearing

Session: 5

Authors: Kelly Ragan

Co-authors: NA

Abstract: A century of fertility data spanning the pill’s introduction informs a model where women’s demand for premarital sex is a function of local customs for preventing unwed birth and equilibrium determined social sanctions against promiscuity. The model predicts a positive relationship between historical illegitimacy and initial demand for the pill, followed by convergence in both pill use and unwed birth across localities as the pill supplants custom as a means of fertility control. These predictions are consistent with three decades of direct data on pill sales and unwed childbearing data which spans two centuries. Historical illegitimacy identifies an important source of latent demand for the pill. The theory motivates an empirical model where this source of latent demand is used to instrument for an exogenous source of pill use and estimate the pill’s impact on unwed childbearing among Swedish teens. Counter to prominent theories which have linked fertility control liberalization and the pill with rising rates of unwed childbearing, the data strongly suggest the pill’s diffusion led to a sharp decline in both the number and share of out-of-wedlock teen births, confirming another prediction of the theory developed here.

Advertising Birth Control: The contraceptive business and sex education in Sweden 1910–1938

Session: 6

Authors: Anna Inez Bergman

Co-authors: Anna Inez Bergman

Abstract: This presentation is based on a thesis chapter that analyzes the interplay between Sweden’s contraceptive business and sex education during the early 20th century. Between 1910 and 1938, the so-called Contraceptive Law prohibited oral and written information about contraceptives as well as window display and outdoor circulation of birth control products. According to a government report, the law led to information on sex and contraceptives mainly being produced and distributed by contraceptive retailers and manufacturers. By primarily analyzing marketing and government reports, this chapter investigates how people received information about contraceptives between 1910–1938 and why businesses became key actors in the distribution of sex education in the early 20th century. The chapter also relates to a larger narrative on how the contraceptive market developed despite being restricted by law.

The Power of the Pill: Evidence from Oral Contraceptive Sales

Session: 6

Authors: kelly ragan

Co-authors: NA

Abstract: The introduction of oral contraception (‘the pill’) was a watershed in fertility control. Yet, the pill’s impact on childbearing has been hard to establish due to limited data. I exploit rich data on pill sales across markets and time to characterize how Swedish teens’ access to pharmacies shaped pill use and fertility after the pill’s introduction. Pill sales are highly sensitive to pharmacy access, and teen fertility responds strongly to pill sales. The unique data establish an important link in the causal chain from pill access to women’s fertility. Estimated fertility responses to the pill could explain the halving of teen births after the pill’s introduction, a finding which is robust to accounting for trends in female education, abortion provision, and other factors.