The XX Factor

Baby’s Bottom Line

Deciding when and whether to have kids is one of those huge questions that bundles together an examination of just about every variable in a woman’s life-including finances. So how has the recession complicated an already-complicated decision?

Lauren Sandler, a recession mother herself, crunched the numbers on The Big Money :

While stocks tumbled in the first few months of 2009, Nielsen reports that sales of condoms and morning-after pills rose more than 10 percent in the United States. Essure, a permanent method of contraception for women, has seen a jump in sales of 28 percent over last year. In Iowa alone, the number of women seeking contraception is up nearly 40 percent. Also up 40 percent are clicks on physician profiles at, which Maya Wank, whose name may have fated her position as the company’s chief operating officer, told me is the point at which visitors are “decision ready” to get snipped. She added that many urologists say vasectomies are up because salaries are down; clients tell them their sudden desire for sterility is motivated by fear of job loss and that they are rushing to get the procedure while they still have health insurance.

On Double X , Annie Murphy Paul looked into the economics of abortion , arguing that even if the recession has increased abortion rates, money is hardly a new factor in the decision:

A report by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonpartisan research organization focused on sexual and reproductive health, demonstrates the persistence of economic concerns in women’s decisions about whether to have a child. The study, titled “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions,” draws its results from a survey of 1,209 abortion patients, and in-depth interviews with 38 more. When asked why they were having an abortion, the second most common reason, given by almost three-quarters of the respondents, was that they “could not afford a baby now.” The most common reason was that children would interfere with their education, work, or ability to care for dependents-concerns that are also largely economic in nature. (According to other Guttmacher research, 57 percent of U.S. women obtaining an abortion are economically disadvantaged, 61 percent have one or more children already, and 67 percent are unmarried.) The study was published in 2005-when the Dow was still riding high and the housing bubble seemed it would never pop.

Meanwhile, Deborah Seigel writes on Recessionwire about the optimistic terror-and forced flexibility-of having a baby, or two in her case, when you can’t afford motherhood on paper:

Marco’s unemployed status is prompting us to ponder with conscious intention a new configuration of work and parenting tailored to our modern lives….[snip]…I have no idea how we’ll achieve this worthy goal. I have no idea when our apartment will sell, or when Marco will find steady work, or how we’ll afford that night nurse that friends who have had twins tell me we just can’t live without.”