Do local employment conditions affect women’s pregnancy intentions?

Mrs Jane Adeaga, an engineer has been married for almost two years. Before she got married, she and her fiancé had intended to start a family immediately. However, three months to her wedding, Jane was transferred to an upcountry branch of her organisation.  In order to effectively oversee the company project at hand, Jane had to delay starting a family. It took another one year before she could obtain the much needed transfer to join her husband.

Tonia works as an air hostess in an airline. She got the job at the time that her fiancé lost his lucrative job. All efforts to get another seemed difficult so they postponed the wedding. About eight months after she resumed in the airline, her fiancé got a better job.  They were happy and resumed wedding plans. However, Tonia’s job required that she can only marry after four years of service and if she does not fall pregnant. Less than six months later, Tonia was happily married and pregnant. But something was missing, her job.

Most people consider fertility as the major factor that shapes a family’s decision to raise children. However, research shows that economic condition is a crucial determining factor. This is because economic condition can shape the decisions that adults make about their families. This decision could be whether and when to have children in addition to the family size.

According to the Journal of Marriage & Family, analysis of US women aged 20 to 44 years found that higher unemployment rates were associated with a lower likelihood of unintended pregnancy. This means that as unemployment rises, women were less likely to have unplanned pregnancies. Unintended pregnancies are pregnancies that are mistimed, unplanned or unwanted at the time of conception. Unintended pregnancies may also result from rape or incest. However, in this context, the focus is not unintended pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

The study combined data from 13,702 women from the National Survey of Family Growth with employment data from the US Census and the American Community Survey. Weak local employment conditions were associated with lower odds of unintended pregnancies (including both mistimed and unwanted) relative to having no pregnancy. Women were less likely to have unwanted pregnancies in particular. Women with both high and low education experienced declines in unintended pregnancy as unemployment rates rose, although the declines were larger among those with less than a high school degree.

Could the reason for the low employment rates associated with unintended pregnancies be that these women were leaving their jobs to raise families? Perhaps this is a subject for further research. However, the examples above supported by the evidence from this research shows that there is an association with higher unemployment rates and low possibility of unintended pregnancy.


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