Bloomberg News

Decline in U.S. Births Linked to Poor Economy, Pew Report Says

October 12, 2011

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A decline in U.S. births since 2007 is linked to the recession that started in December of that year, with hard-hit Florida, California and Nevada experiencing sharp fertility declines, a report by Pew Research Center said.

Nevada, where housing prices have dropped by more than half since 2006, saw its birth rate drop to 71.2 births per thousand women aged 15 to 44 in 2009 from 74.8 in 2008, the report said. North Dakota, with an unemployment rate of just 3.1 percent in 2008, was the only state to show an increase in births from 2008 to 2009, Pew said. Nationwide, the birth rate dropped to 66.7 in 2009 from 68.5 the year before.

Many younger women may be postponing childbirth for economic reasons and may decide to have children when the economy improves, the report said. Pew’s report sought to explain a decline in births to about 4 million nationally in 2010 from 4.3 million in 2007, according to National Center for Health Statistics data.

“States experiencing the largest economic declines in 2007 and 2008 were most likely to experience relatively large fertility declines from 2008 to 2009,” the report said. “States with relatively minor economic declines were likely to experience relatively small declines.”

Hispanics, whose employment levels and household wealth were more severely hurt in the recession, experienced the largest fertility declines of the nation’s three major racial and ethnic groups, Pew said.

“People put off having children during the economic downturn, and then catch up on fertility once economic conditions improve,” Pew said. Still, “It’s too early to know if fertility will bounce back as the U.S. economy recovers.”

--Editors: Christopher Wellisz, Kevin Costelloe

To contact the reporter on this story: Steve Matthews in Atlanta at smatthews@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz@bloomberg.net


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