Roe vs. wade is almost certainly reversible, which could effectively make abortion illegal in about half of the US states. If that happens, historical records tell us it will not only affect women personally, but also put their professional lives at risk.
That decision, a draft of which was leaked to Politico earlier this month affects a woman’s chance of working at all, what kind of job she takes, how much education she gets, how much money she earns, and even the hopes and dreams she has for herself. In turn, her career influences almost every other aspect of her life, from her chance of living in poverty to her view of herself.
And taking away the ability to make that decision will negate the decades-long advancements women have made in the labor market, which has a cascade effect on women’s place in society.
As Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury College, put it, “Having children is the most economically important decision most women make.”
We all know this because of decades of research into how abortion bans hurt women — research that Myers, along with more than 150 other economists, have done. set out in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationthe Mississippi case that is likely to change Roe v. Wade† In addition to long-term studies looking specifically at the outcomes of women who were unable to have an abortion versus those who did, there is even more robust data on the negative causal effects of having children on women in general. It’s also just common sense, according to Jason Lindo, an economics professor at Texas A&M University.
“Anyone who has had children or has seriously thought about having children knows that it is super expensive in terms of time and money,” Lindo said. “So, of course, restrictions that make it harder for people to time when they have children or limit the number of children they have will seriously affect their careers and their economic conditions.”
Even in the absence of a national ban, the government’s anti-abortion measures have been a huge burden on women and society as a whole. The Institute for Research on Women’s Policy (IWPR) estimated that state-level restrictions have cost those economies $105 billion a year in reduced employment rates, lower income, increased revenue and leisure among first-class working-age women.
An abortion ban will not affect all women equally. Myers says that in regions of the country where abortion is banned and where travel distances will increase for women to have an abortion, about three-quarters of women who want to have an abortion will still do so. That means about a quarter of the women there — in Myers’ words, “the poorest, the most vulnerable, the most financially vulnerable women in a wide swath of the Deep South and Midwest” — won’t receive their health care.
As the US faces an ongoing labor shortage — one led in part by women who have left the workforce to care for children and the elderly during the pandemic — the expected Supreme Court decision will exacerbate the situation and potentially affect the experience. of women in the workforce change for years to come.
1) Female employment rate could fall
Access to abortion is an important factor that increased female labor force participation† Nationally, the labor force participation of women went from about 40 percent before Roe v. Wade was passed to . in 1973 almost 60 percent before the pandemic (male participation was nearly 70 percent then). Abortion bans could thwart or even reverse some of those benefits.
Using data from the Turnaway Studygroundbreaking research comparing results over time for women across the country who received or were denied abortions, University of California San Francisco professor Diana Greene Foster and fellow researchers found it that six months after they were refused an abortion, women were less likely to work full-time than those who had had an abortion. That difference remained significant for four years after these women were denied abortions, a gap that could further affect their job prospects in the future.
2) Lower education level
Education rates are fundamental to career prospects and pay. a 1996 study by Joshua Angrist and William Evans looked at states that liberalized abortion laws before Roe v. Wade and discovered access to abortion leads to higher educational rates and labor market outcomes. Kelly Jones, professor of economics at American University, used data from state abortion regulations to determine whether young women who became pregnant have legal access to abortions increased their level of education by nearly a year and their probability of completing college by about 20 percentage points. The evidence is largely driven by the impact on young black women.
Other Research by Jones and Mayra Pineda-Torres found that simple exposure to targeted abortion provider restrictions, or TRAP laws, reduced the likelihood of young black teens entering or finishing college. Primary education, in turn, influences which jobs women are qualified for.
3) The kind of jobs women get will be more limited
Having children has a major impact on the types of jobs women get, often leading them to part-time or lower-paying occupations. While a broader abortion ban is on the horizon, many individual states have already enacted TRAP laws that make getting an abortion more difficult. This legislation has also provided a natural experiment for researchers such as Kate Bahn, chief economist at the nonprofit research organization Washington Center for Equitable Growth, who found that women in these states less likely to move to higher paying occupations†
“We know a lot from previous research on the first expansion of birth control pills and abortion care in the 1970s that when women have a little more certainty about their family planning, they just make different choices,” Bahn told Recode.
This can lead to more occupational segregation — the over-representation of women in certain areas, such as health and education, for example — causing wages to fall in those areas, even after taking into account education, experience and location.
4) All of the above has a negative effect on income
Reducing the jobs women get, taking time out of the workforce, getting less education – all of this hurts women’s wages, which are already lower on average than men’s.
One paper by economist Ali Abboud who looked at states where abortion was previously legal Roe v. Wade found that young women who had an abortion to delay an unplanned pregnancy for just a year had an 11 percent increase in hourly wages compared to the average. that of Jones Research found that legal access to abortion for pregnant young women increased their chances of entering a professional occupation by 35 percentage points.
the IWPR estimates that if existing abortion restrictions were removed, women in the US would earn an average of $1,600 more per year. Income loss affects not only women who have unwanted pregnancies, but also their families and their existing children. Income, in turn, influences the poverty rates of not only the women who have to go through an unwanted pregnancy, but also their existing children.
5) Lack of access to abortion limits women’s career aspirations
Perhaps most insidiously, the lack of access to abortion severely limits women’s hopes for their own careers. Building on her team’s research in the Turnaway Study, Foster found it that women who were unable to obtain a desired abortion were significantly less likely to have one-year goals related to work than those who did, probably because those goals would be much more difficult to achieve if they were for a newborn would care. They were also less likely to have a year or five years ambitious goals in general.
Limiting women’s autonomy over their reproductive rights amplifies women’s unequal status in ways that are both concrete and ephemeral, C. Nicole Mason, IWPR president and CEO, told Recode.
“That’s a very psychological, emotional, psychological feeling — to feel and understand that my equality, my rights, are less than my male counterparts,” she said. “The law makes it that way. The Supreme Court makes it that way.”