Through extensive historical data analysis, economists at the University of Passau have shown that the American women’s rights activist Margaret Sanger’s birth control and family planning clinics not only birth rates but also have a major impact on local health. In the early 20th century. As such, they provide new insights into the causes and dynamics of population change in the United States.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America, not only was abortion banned, but the distribution of contraceptives and sex education were also banned. Women from lower income groups are particularly affected. Multiple pregnancies and childbirth endanger their health and lead to poverty.
Margaret Sanger, a nurse, has spoken out against bans on sex education and women’s rights. In 1916, she opened the first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York. But ten days later, the police arrived and Sanger was jailed. Sanger continued to fight, starting a national movement and helping to found some 650 such clinics, mainly in the United States, in the late 1920s and 1930s.
The study, “The Impact of Margaret Sanger’s Birth Control Clinic on Fertility and Mortality in Early 20th Century America,” was led by two economists from the University of Passau, Professor Michael Green and Stefan Bauer. Professor Ernst Schuster in collaboration with American historians. Professor Kathy M. Harjo, at Ramapo University in New Jersey, USA, was the first to conduct a quantitative study of the clinic’s impact.
The researchers specifically analyzed historical data and showed that the clinic not only reduced the number of births, but also stillbirths and infant and maternal deaths: “The results showed that the clinic prevented prevent births due to improved health status.” Risk. For example, for women and children, pregnancy too soon after a previous birth or women who have had multiple births. It will also improve the living conditions and health of households,” explained the economist.
- After opening the clinic, the birth rate decreased. Women between the ages of 15 and 40 who can see a doctor are 15% less likely to have children.
- After opening the clinic, the stillbirth rate decreased by 4.5%. This effect is not due to a decrease in the number of pregnancies, but can be explained by a longer interval between pregnancies, which improves maternal and child health (no).
- Birth control clinics have also helped to significantly reduce infant mortality. With the help of the clinic, the number of children who die in the first year of life has been reduced by 7%. This effect can be explained not by a decrease in births but also by an increase in health status.
- There are also reports of a decrease in maternal mortality. No sex-disaggregated mortality statistics were published during the observation period. However, cause-of-death statistics show that the mortality rate from puerperal fever decreased more in areas with birth control clinics than in other regions.
Reasons for population change
Professor Grimm said: “We are the first to demonstrate that Margaret Sanger’s family planning and family planning clinic has a significant impact on demographic change in the United States.
He chairs the Department of Development Economics and focuses his research on the poorest regions of Africa. For him, the historical context of the United States is a field experiment that can translate some notions of that time into the contemporary context of the Southern Hemisphere. The present study is based on the use of historical data from the United States to examine the impact of climate conditions on farm fertility in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Stephan Bauernshuster, professor of public finance at the University of Passau, also studies historical data on mortality. It shows how Bismarck’s first universal health insurance saved lives by spreading unique medical knowledge to the German Empire.
He was also surprised to see historical data in the US and questions about the clinic’s impact on women’s and children’s health. “We were able to show that clinics have a significant impact on health.”
For the study, the economists digitized a remarkable collection of data gathered by historian Kathy Hajo from Sanger Birth Control Review publications, archival newspapers, and many other sources. The researchers combined this information using data from the full U.S. Census and administrative records of births and deaths at the city and county levels.
American historian Kathy Harjo has done extensive research into the life and career of Margaret Sanger. “If Margaret Sanger saw the results of this study, she would be very happy,” he said. The nurse has spent her life thinking that women’s advocacy has really changed. “Now we can show how big the impact is.”
The study is published as a working paper. Scientists are currently presenting their research results at conferences and congresses.