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Being Unemployed Has A Marked Effect On Fertility

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

A good way to improve chances of getting pregnant may be to get a job.

A US study matched 140 million female birth records with unemployment rates and found that the negative effects of unemployment on fertility increase over time.

Scientists have been researching the relationship between fertility and unemployment for more than a century.

Most studies find that fertility falls with unemployment in the short run but it is not known whether these negative effects persist because women simply may postpone childbearing to better economic times.

Using more than 140 million US birth records for the period 1975–2010, the new study analyses both the short and long-run effects of unemployment on fertility.

“We find that women in their early 20s are most affected by high unemployment rates in the short run and that the negative effects on fertility grow over time,” the researchers say.

“A one percentage point increase in the average unemployment rate experienced between the ages of 20 and 24 reduces the short-run fertility of women in this age range by six conceptions per 1,000 women.”

The study by Janet Currie at Princeton University and colleagues is published in the journal PNAS.

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