Five years after the introduction of the pill in 1960, 41% of "contracepting" women had a prescription, according to The Power of the Pill, a 2002 analysis by Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz.
Today, 4 out of every 5 sexually active women in the U.S. have taken oral contraceptives at some point in their lives. As birth control became widely available, women began delaying marriage and investing in their education without fear of pregnancy or commitment to abstinence, which led to higher female employment rates and better careers.
Bottom Line: The pill has had a singularly profound effect in advancing women's economic freedom.
Share of U.S. working women in management or professional occupations:
1970 = 19.9%
1980 = 27.4%
2000 = 37.5%
2011 = 51%
Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek, December 8, 2014