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For Some Women, Recession Means Having Few Children

By Rob Stein

The recession is apparently prompting more women to try to delay having babies, according to the first survey (pdf) aimed at documenting the effects of the economic downtown on childbearing.

Nearly half of working-class women want to put off childbearing or to have fewer children, according to the survey, which was commissioned by the Guttmacher Institute, a private, nonprofit reproductive-health research organization.

The study, conducted by Knowledge Networks, involved a nationally representative sample of 947 women ages 18 to 34 with household incomes of less than $75,000, and it was conducted in July and August.

"These are women who might not have health insurance or may have lost their health insurance, and so might be most stressed," said Sharon Camp, Guttmacher's chief executive and president.

"The recession is putting many women and their partners between a rock and a hard place," Camp said. "They want to avoid an unplanned pregnancy more than ever, but for many of them, the ability to afford the birth control they need is getting harder than ever."


Significant findings from the survey are after the jump.

-- 44 percent of the women reported that, because of the economy, they want to reduce or delay childbearing. Most of these women want to get pregnant later (31 percent), want fewer children than planned (28 percent) or now do not want any more children (7 percent);

-- More than half the respondents (52 percent) said they were financially worse off than they were a year ago;

-- Nearly three out of every four women reported worrying more about money;

-- Among women with children, 57 percent reported worrying more about taking care of their kids;

-- 64 percent of women agreed with the statement, "With the economy the way it is, I can't afford to have a baby right now";

-- About a third (29 percent) agreed with the statement, "With the economy the way it is, I am more careful than I used to be about using contraception every time I have sex"; and

-- Nearly half of those who want no more children reported that, because of the economy, they are thinking more about sterilization.

At the same time, the survey found that financial problems were making it harder for women to use good contraception. The survey found:

-- Nearly one in four women reported having put off a gynecological or birth-control visit in the past year, to save money;

-- 23 percent reported having a harder time paying for birth control than in the past;

-- 8 percent of women reported that they sometimes did not use birth control in order to save money; and

-- Among women using the birth-control pill, 18 percent reported inconsistent use as a way to save money.

This post also appeared in The Daily Dose.

By washingtonpost.com Editors  |  September 23, 2009; 7:50 AM ET
Categories:  Family Health , Women's Health  
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Comments

Um...and for some women, the recession means driving a 7 year old Toyota instead of a new BMW. And living in a one bedroom condo instead of a four bedroom house.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | September 23, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I guess we aren't so different from the trees in the forest that show wider growth rings in wetter years.

I wonder if the survey included the question: my personal financial situation has caused me to ask my partner for assistance in acquiring birth control.

After all, it does take two to make a baby.

Posted by: RedBird27 | September 23, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Were women the only species polled? As RedBird says, it takes two to make a baby. Why not more vasectomies? Why does the burden of birth control always fall on the shoulders of the woman? Men have traditionally been the breadwinners so it makes sense that the breadwinners would worry more about the number of mouths that bread has to go into.

As for polling working class women -- DUH!!! That working woman has to take time off to have the baby, usually about 6 weeks, thereby missing a paycheck in most cases until she can find child care and get back into the work force. Men rarely have that problem. It's clearly a one-sided poll and lacks credibility.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | September 23, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

-- 23 percent reported having a harder time paying for birth control than in the past;

-- 8 percent of women reported that they sometimes did not use birth control in order to save money; and

-- Among women using the birth-control pill, 18 percent reported inconsistent use as a way to save money.

I wonder if they know that there are affordable, reliable options other than the pill. Condoms are pretty cheap, and you can even ask your partner to pick them up!

Posted by: MzFitz | September 23, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

I am confused that so many would say they are having a harder time affording birth control, or worse, are trying "inconsistent use" to save money.

From what my fiance tells me, birth control is already close to free -- she pays $15/month for pills. For the uninsured, I believe Walmart sells a generic brand for $9/month. A box of condoms is even less. If a guy and girl, put together, cannot afford these expenses, they probably should hold off on the sex for a few weeks and either find a job or apply for unemployment benefits.

Posted by: Roger24 | September 24, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Roger. Buying birth control pills and condoms is definitely cheaper than raising an unwanted kid. If you can't afford to prevent them, how can you afford to feed them?

Posted by: Baltimore11 | September 24, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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