Naomi Cahn and June Carbone, “Blue Biology: Women, Economics, and Family Values”

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Full text at the HuffPo, excerpt below:

… The economy and biology are on a collision course. The latest news confirms what many women fear — wait too long and your eggs are gone. The scientific findings aren’t quite that bad. According to a new study by researchers at the University of St. Andrews and Edinburgh University, by age 30, most women retain only 12 percent of their original egg reserves, and by age 40 just three percent. Three percent may be still be on average 9000 eggs — more than enough to get pregnant — but the odds definitely change.

So what we should be doing if we want to make sure our descendants are still around in another generation or two? The answer, like everything else about families and the economy, is two-pronged.

First, the Great Recession is likely to accelerate the ongoing disinvestment in the human capital of the new generation, and initiate a new round of “dumber and dumber.” Consider the immediate effect. Hard times make the responsible, thoughtful, cash-pressed wait longer — there goes that ticking biological clock. The Guttmacher Institute reported last fall that 64% of American women “could not afford to have a baby right now,” with almost half saying they wanted to delay or reduce childbearing because of the recession.

Second, tighter finances simultaneously make it harder NOT to get pregnant. The reduction in the teen birth rate in the prosperous nineties, for example, was fueled in part by more reliable contraceptives, but the new techniques, such as Depo-Provera and other injectables, are more expensive than condoms from the local drugstore. Guttmacher also reported last fall that 23% of women were having a harder time affording birth control, and other studies indicate that women in their early twenties, at the peak of fertility, have become less likely to have health care. …

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