RELEASE: CAP Report Shows Greater Reproductive Health Access Creates Economic Opportunity for Women

Washington, D.C. — Reinforcing the case for centering women’s rights in policy and economic debates, a new report from the Center for American Progress finds a correlation between reproductive health care access—including abortion—and strong labor mobility and economic outcomes for women.

The states where women workers have better access to reproductive health care services are the states where women have more opportunities in the labor market, including higher earnings, more parity with men in part-time work, and avoiding what is known as job lock—the lack of labor mobility between a job or employment opportunities allowing a person to transition to another job that might be a better fit for their skills.

“This study shows a clear link between the availability of reproductive health care and a vibrant labor market where women are able to move between jobs, find part-time work, and earn greater wages. We need to take more seriously attacks on women’s health care and the negative impact that regressive attitudes toward women have on the health of our economy, rather than siloing them as merely ‘women’s issues,’” said Kate Bahn, economist at CAP.

CAP’s findings suggest that abortion access itself may not be the direct reason female workers make choices about whether to change occupations or re-enter employment, but it is an indicator of women’s rights overall and shows how women’s empowerment more broadly can influence economic outcomes for female workers.

The report also finds:

  • Women face less job lock in states with public funding for abortion, demonstrating the correlation between progressive attitudes toward women’s bodily autonomy and more opportunity in the labor market. The availability of public funding for abortion through state Medicaid laws had a significant positive effect of a 1.5 percent increased likelihood of women changing occupations—with no similar effect for men as a control group in those states.
  • Targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) laws also have a significant, negative effect on women, with a 1.8 percent decreased likelihood of changing jobs for women, and no significant effect for men.
  • Women get closer to economic equality with men—in terms of earnings and occupational segregation—in states with positive indicators of reproductive health care access, such as insurance coverage for contraception as well as public funding for abortion, compared with women in states with negative indicators, such as mandatory waiting periods and TRAP laws.

Click here to read “Linking Reproductive Health Care Access to Labor Market Opportunities for Women” by Kate Bahn, Adriana Kugler, Melissa Mahoney, Danielle Corley, and Annie McGrew.

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Devon Kearns at dkearns@americanprogress.org or 202-741-6290.