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Behind-the-counter, but Over-the-border? The Assessment of the Geographical Spillover Effect of Increased Access to Emergency Contraception

Posted October 21, 2013 | Categories: UHERO Working Papers, Cintina, Inna

Washington was the first state to ease the prescription requirements making emergency contraception (EC) available behind-the-counter at pharmacies to women of any age in 1998. I hypothesize that the increased availability of EC affects fertility rates beyond the borders of the state that allows it. In contrast to the literature, I show that increased access to EC is associated with a statistically significant albeit economically small decrease in abortion rates in Washington counties where women had access to no-prescription EC pharmacies. Yet, there is no effect on pregnancy rates. These results are robust in a number of specifications. Finally, I find some evidence in support of the spillover effects in Idaho, but not Oregon. However, after accounting for changes in the availability of abortion services, the decrease in fertility rates in “treated” Idaho counties is rather small and models lack sufficient power to detect it.

WORKING PAPER


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