Contraception use and satisfaction among mothers with low income: Evidence from the Baby's First Years study

Molly A. Costanzo, Katherine A. Magnuson, Lisa A. Gennetian, Sarah Halpern-Meekin, Kimberly G. Noble, Hirokazu Yoshikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Low income can lead to limited choice of and access to contraception. We examine whether an unconditional cash transfer (UCT) impacts contraceptive use, including increased satisfaction with and reduced barriers to preferred methods, for individuals with low income. Study design: Baby's First Years is a randomized control study of a monthly UCT to families with low incomes. The study enrolled 1000 mothers at the time of childbirth across four US sites in 2018–2019; 400 were randomized to receive a UCT of $333/mo and 600 were randomized to receive $20/mo for the first years of their child's life. We use intent-to-treat analyses to estimate the impact of the cash transfer on contraception use, satisfaction with contraception method, and barriers to using methods of choice. Results: Over 65% of mothers reported using some type of contraception, and three-quarters reported using the method of their choice. We find no impact of the UCT on mothers’ choice of, satisfaction with, or barriers to contraception. However, the cash transfer was associated with trends toward using multiple methods and greater use of short-term hormonal methods. Conclusions: We find high levels of satisfaction with current contraceptive use among mothers of young children with low income. Receipt of monthly UCTs did not impact contraception methods, perceived barriers to use, or satisfaction. Yet, 25% were not using the method of their choice, despite the provision of cash, indicating that this cash amount alone may not be sufficient to impact contraceptive use or increase satisfaction. Implications: Satisfaction with contraception use among low-income populations may be higher than previously documented. Nevertheless, provision of modest financial resources alone may not sufficiently address access, availability, and satisfaction for individuals with low-incomes of childbearing age. This suggests the importance of exploring how other nonfinancial factors influence reproductive autonomy, including contraceptive use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110297
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • Cash transfers
  • Contraception
  • Low-income
  • RCT
  • Reproductive health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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