The Atlantic: "Forget Plan B: To Fight Teen Pregnancy, Focus on Economic Opportunity"

May 8, 2013

Phillip B. Levine, Katharine Coman and A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Economics at Wellesley College, and Melissa Kearney, a University of Maryland economist, recently penned a piece for The Atlantic about a controversial decision by the Obama administration to appeal a federal court ruling that would have made Plan B (also known as the "morning-after pill") available without a prescription to girls of any age.

Levine and Kearney, who authored a large-scale empirical study investigating the role that income inequality plays in determining early, non-marital childbearing in 2012, assert, "[W]hether or not young girls get access to Plan B will have no discernible impact on the country's extraordinary rate of teen childbearing." As of last year, American teens were two and a half times as likely to give birth as compared to teens in Canada, around four times as likely as teens in Germany or Norway, and almost 10 times as likely as teens in Switzerland.

The co-authors wrote, "If we really want to combat teen childbearing, we need to present girls at risk of becoming pregnant with an attractive alternative. It is not enough to offer them contraception and to explain to how to use it. We need to convince them that they want to use it; that they and their children will be better off if they wait to become mothers."

Read their article, "Forget Plan B: To Fight Teen Pregnancy, Focus on Economic Opportunity" in its entirety in The Atlantic.

2012 press release: Opportunity: The Most Effective Birth Control for Teens?