Go to main navigation Navigation menu Skip navigation Home page Search

Seminar in Economics | with Natalie Bau

Department of Economics welcomes you to a seminar with Natalie Bau, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Welcome to this Higher Seminar in Economics organized by the Department of Economics, SSE. The seminar speaker is Natalie Bau, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) who will present 

"Family Planning, Now and Later: Infertility Fear and Contraception Take-Up" 

(joint with David Henning, Corinne Low, and Bryce Steinberg).


Early fertility is thought to be one of the key barriers to female human capital attainment in Sub-Saharan Africa, yet contraception take-up remains puzzlingly low, even among highly-educated populations with healthcare access. We study a barrier to hormonal and long-acting contraceptive uptake that has not yet been examined in the economic literature: the persistent (incorrect) belief that these contraceptives may cause later infertility. This belief creates a perceived tradeoff between current and future reproductive control. We use a randomized controlled trial with female undergraduates at the flagship university in Zambia -- a highly-skilled population where education is likely to have particularly high returns -- to test two potential interventions to increase contraception use. Despite high rates of sexual activity and low rates of condom-use, only 5% of this population uses hormonal contraception at baseline. Providing a non-coercive conditional cash transfer to visit a local clinic temporarily increases contraceptive use. Pairing this transfer with information addressing fears that contraceptives cause infertility persistently increases take-up over 6 months. The latter treatment moves beliefs about the infertility effects of contraceptives and leads to the take-up of longer-lasting contraceptives like injections. Compliers are more likely to cite fear of infertility as the reason for not using contraceptives at baseline. A follow-up experiment provides suggestive evidence that students are more likely to test for STIs when they are told STIs cause infertility. These findings indicate that perceived risks to future fertility shape expected costs of contraception and more generally that future fertility is valuable to women. 


The seminar takes place at Stockholm School of Economics, Sveavägen 65, room A750.

Please contact nicola.donohoe@hhs.se if you have any questions.

Dept. of Economics Economics Seminar in economics