While employment levels dropped during the Great Recession, the number of men choosing to have vasectomies increased.
Researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College found 3.9 percent of American men reported having a vasectomy in the years before the 2007-2009 recession. But right after that period, 4.4 percent of men said they’d had the birth-control procedure. That translates to an extra 150,000 to 180,000 men deciding to go under the knife each year the country was experiencing the economic downturn.
The study was presented in mid-October at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual meeting. Researchers used information collected by the National Survey for Family Growth, a phone survey of more than 10,000 American men between 2006 and 2010.
The study also found that while vasectomies increased, the proportion of men who wanted to have children was the same before and after the recession.
“Whether it’s successful hunting or having a good job, economics has played a role in having children throughout human history. This study shows us that economics still affects human reproduction in the 21st century,” ASRM President Rebecca Sokol said in a news release.
It should be noted that the latest study does not appear to directly link the downturn in the economy to more vasectomies.
The ASFM press release notes “men were found to have lower income, were more often without health insurance, and less likely to be employed full-time” after the recession, but researchers did not say whether the National Survey for Family Growth asked men for the reason they had vasectomies.
This isn’t the first indication the Great Recession may have had an impact on the number of children Americans plan to have. According to The Atlantic, a study released by Princeton researchers in September estimated at least half a million fewer babies were born because of the Great Recession.
The Princeton study looked at all birth records in the U.S. between 1975 and 2010 to determine a 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate meant that for every 1,000 women between the ages of 20 and 24, 14 fewer children were conceived, and five extra women remained without children for their entire lives, according to The Atlantic.
According to NPR, the national birth rate was down 4 percent from 2007 to 2009, marking the biggest two-year decline in 30 years.