The Economy and Birth Control

A History Lesson

When you look at history and population growth, you will see that historically, wartime and times of tragedy created baby booms (think WW2) while economic hardship meant fewer births. As it turns out, the economic downturn of the 21st century has made quite an impact upon the birthrate in the US, although, it hasn’t done much to change the activity of the bedroom – which is an interesting phenomenon.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, women in American went from having three children to having two, despite the war that was going on in Europe. Even though America is at war in the Middle East, the economy in the country seems to be dictating how many babies are being born. The results aren’t in yet so we don’t know how the economic recession will ultimately affect the national birth rate (the average number of children a woman will have in her lifetime). It will be interesting to see the numbers when they do come out.

The Cost of Raising Children

Looking at the process historically, fewer babies meant less sex because of the concern of creating yet another mouth to feed. The truth is that having a baby is an expensive proposition and in today’s world that is truer than ever. The US Department of Agriculture presented a study that indicated the cost (adjusted for inflation) of a two-year-old child can be at least $7,800 a year for families with an annual income of less than $45,800. For families that are in the middle-income bracket (before-tax income of $45,800 to $77,100) the cost rises to nearly $11,000 per year – per child. By the time this child hits 18 his parents will spend more than $200,000 feeding, clothing, and educating him.

Birth Control Sales are Booming

This situation has certainly created some changes in sexual behavior – and it isn’t in terms of reducing it. If anything, it seems to have increased, if you are checking the sales of birth control methods. The Nielsen Co, a data-tracking firm, says that there was a 10.2% increase in the “family planning” category during the first two months of 2009. Products listed in this particular category include vaginal spermicides, female condoms, and other over-the-counter female contraception. Prices on these items have risen and still the sales are up – higher prices and all. Even condom sales have gone up 6.4% in 2009 over the national sales in 2008. Analysts believe there are two factors instigating this. First, families are choosing less expensive methods of birth control and second, couples are being extra careful by doubling up on protection.

Desparate Times = Desparate Measures

Within two years of the beginning of the recession, in 2007, US doctors have reported a dramatic increase in the number of vasectomies being performed since the downturn of the economy. Marc Goldstein, MD, surgeon-in-chief of male reproductive medicine and surgery at the Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine in New York City said his practice has experienced a 48% increase in vasectomy consultations compared to the previous year. Stephen Jones, MD, chairman of the department of regional urology at the Cleveland Clinic reported a 75% increase in vasectomies. That is staggering.

Women Are Thinking Twice

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists did a national survey that was released in May of 2009 that showed that of women ages 18 to 44, 14% surveyed said the economy has an effect upon how they will plan their family size. The number jumps to 17% for women who are married. These women have said that the economy has caused them to delay in either starting or expanding their family. For women who were planning a pregnancy, one in ten said the economy has been a deciding factor for them.

What does all of this boil down to? Birth control sales are booming, and so is sex in America’s bedrooms. People want sex – without the baby.

Leave a Comment