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Humanae Vitae at Fifty Years and the Economics of the Pill

Andrew Beauchamp


This article examines how economic analysis of the social consequences of the birth control pill dovetail with the predictions and pronouncements of Roman Catholic social teaching. Direct, equilibrium, and indirect consequences each, in turn, confirm that the advent of the pill has coincided with increased rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births alongside increased participation of women in the formal labor market. These findings lead to the conclusion that Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae and other papal teachings on sex, marriage, and the family deserve to be revisited and reevaluated in light of this history.

Andrew Beauchamp, "Humanae Vitae at Fifty Years and the Economics of the Pill," Journal of Markets & Morality 23, no. 1 (2020): 7-25.

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