This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Abortion Rate Declined in US Even as Birth Rate Dropped

This week the US Centers for Disease Control issued the latest installment in their abortion surveillance reports. The good news was that the abortion rate dropped in the US in this most recent period. NBC News summarizes the story:
U.S. abortions fell 5 percent during the Great Recession in the biggest one-year decrease in at least a decade, according to government figures released Wednesday. 
While many states have aggressively restricted access to abortion, most of those laws were adopted in the past two years and are not believed to have played a role in the decline. 
The reason for the decline wasn't clear, but some experts said it may be due to better use of birth control during tough economic times. Their theory is that some women believe they can't afford to get pregnant.
Keep in mind that the abortion rate declined even though the birth rate was declining, which is the indirect evidence that women are relying more on contraception to avoid getting pregnant in the first place.

The increased care with which women are avoiding conception in the face of economic uncertainty is similar to the story being told in Sub-Saharan Africa. Tom A. Moultrie, Takudzwa S. Sayi and Ian M. Tim├Žus have a paper in the latest issue of Population Studies detailing the role that postponement of births has been playing in African fertility levels.

The shift from abortion to contraception has also played out recently in the Republic of Georgia, which for some time now has had the highest abortion rate in the world. The abortion rate in Georgia dropped by half between 2005 (when the results of a Reproductive Health Survey were released) and now. This appears to be due especially to a USAID-assisted program that brought contraceptives to Georgian women, so that they no longer had to rely on abortion as their main method of fertility control. Furthermore, there is no evidence that the birth rate has risen in Georgia as a result. It has been low for a long time and no one expects it to go up any time soon.

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