Talk about your unintended consequences. A new working paper by two Notre Dame University economists, Kasey Buckles and Daniel Hungerman, issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that making condoms available in high schools, rather than preventing teen pregnancy, serves instead to promote it. They write:
We find clear evidence that access to condoms in schools leads to an increase in teen fertility...The effects are reasonably large in magnitude: access to condoms for the entire high-school-aged population in a county would lead to about 5 extra births per 1,000 teenage women, or a 10 percent increase relative to the mean. Since the average program covered about one-third of the teenage women in the county, the typical program led to an additional 2 births per 1,000 teenage women... School condom distribution programs could encourage risky sexual behaviors, promote the use of the condom over methods that better prevent pregnancy, or cause schools to shift resources away from more effective programs.
There may be reasons other than birth control to distribute condoms in schools — for example, to reduce sexually transmitted diseases. The authors suggest that offering counseling along with the condoms may reduce the pregnancy-promoting effects. But it sure looks like a classic example of a government program having the opposite of the intended effect.