Today’s Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health denying women full reproductive health rights under the US Constitution has enormous economic impacts and workforce equity outcomes.
Extensive evidence by economists reveal that the legalization of abortion services has increased women’s educational attainment, labor force participation and multiple lifetime indices of economic success. Studies have also found that access to legal abortions were associated with an 11% increase in a woman’s hourly wages and increased the probability that women finished college by nearly 20 percentage points. Additionally, the probability that women entered a professional occupation rose by nearly 40 percentage points. A reduction in levels of financial distress were further exacerbated when women did not have the legal right to determine the timing of their reproductive choices.
While all women continue to suffer because of a gender pay gap and a motherhood penalty, full reproductive health rights have profound effects that tend to be greater among Black women. Also, the challenges of childcare are typically born by women and contribute to the country’s growing income inequality. The nation and state cannot commit itself to a future of work that invests in an equitable distribution of quality jobs if rights are removed from nearly half of the labor force.