According to a recently released study from the Brookings Institution, poor women are no more promiscuous than rich women, but they are more prone to accidental pregnancies.
Women below the poverty line are five times more likely than affluent women to have an unplanned birth which further drives income inequality.
The study investigated the fertility outcomes of 3,885 single women who had unplanned pregnancies. The results showed that women below the poverty line were two times more likely to engage in unprotected sex than women in the top income bracket.
Researchers point to the lack of sexual education and the access to birth control, not promiscuity, as the likely culprit:
The difference boils down to contraceptive use, not sexual activity. There is no “sex gap” by income, researchers emphasized. Promiscuity doesn’t vary along class lines. Access to the most reliable forms of birth control, however, does.
Access to birth control is important, but so is affordability. Typically, the more effective the birth control, the more expensive it is. Condoms are cheap and readily available, costing as little as 15 cents, but they have an 18 percent failure rate. Birth control pills have a lower failure rate (9 percent), but can cost up to $150.00 for a thirty day supply. Progestin-releasing IUDs, which fail .2 percent of the time, cost up to $1000.00.
Limited access to effective methods of birth control in poor communities “widens the income-fertility gap”.
“The passage of the Affordable Care Act represents a huge advance here, by making better contraception more financially accessible,” the study stated, “but lack of knowledge about the efficacy of IUDs and implants and access to quality medical advice about contraception are still significant problems.”
The study also found that women in the top income bracket tended to terminate their pregnancies at a higher rate. Thirty-two percent of respondents in the highest income bracket had abortions compared to 9 percent of women living below the poverty line.
Researchers reported a financial barrier to safe procedures as the primary deterrent. Equalizing abortion rates, they calculate, could reduce the unintended birth ratio by a third.