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More condoms = more diplomas!

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Study: "The impact of contraceptive access on high school graduation" by Amanda J. Stevenson, Katie R. Genadek, Sara Yeatman, Stefanie Mollborn, and Jane A. Menken (May 2021).

In the U.S. state of Colorado, greater access to contraception for young girls increases their likelihood of graduating from high school, especially among girls who self-identify as "hispanic", according to a new study.

The Colorado Family Planning Initiative (CFPI) was established in 2009. Since then, contraceptives have been made available at low or no cost at all family planning clinics in the Colorado. The program was apparently quite successful: According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the birth rate among Colorado's teens dropped by 40 percent between 2009 and 2013, and the abortion rate dropped 35 percent.

A team of researchers wanted to find out if these changes in birth and abortion rates also affected graduation rates in the state. They created two groups made up of women ages 20 to 22. One group consisted of women who had graduated just before the CFPI was implemented. The other group included women who had graduated shortly after the CFPI was implemented and, accordingly, could have benefited from the program.

The researchers compared graduation rates with those in states that had similar rates and demographic characteristics before the program was introduced. Colorado's graduation rate for women was 1.66 percentage points higher than that of women in the other comparable states. Hispanic women in Colorado benefited the most from the measures, with a rate 4.86 percentage points higher than before the program. It can therefore be concluded that when young girls have better access to contraception, they are more likely to graduate from high school.

Despite the positive impact, Republican senators blocked a bill in Colorado in 2015 that would have maintained and even expanded the program. According to the senators, there were already enough existing family planning programs that young girls in the state didn't need a new one. This new study provides evidence to the contrary.

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