Monday, October 17, 2011

Birth rate tanks with economy: US

Birth rates in the United States took a tumble during the recession, particularly in the economically hardest-hit states, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.

In the analysis, released on Wednesday, the sharp decline in fertility rates started in 2008 and has continued to drop since the recession hit. In 2007, the U.S. had a record high number of births -- about 4.3 million -- before starting to decline in 2008 to 4.25 million. The number kept dropping in 2009 to 4.13 million, and in 2010, data shows there were just 4.01 million births. Politico

The analysis reveals Hispanics, who were hit hardest in terms of employment and wealth by the recession, also experienced the largest drop in birth rates since the economic crisis kicked off. From 2008 to 2009, the birth rate among Hispanics dropped 5.9 percent, Pew found. Blacks saw a 2.4 percent drop, and whites had a 1.6 percent decline. Politico

The research, the center wrote, shows a link between economic and fertility declines -- and it means once the economy bounces back, the U.S. should expect the birth rate to do the same. Politico

"Experts suggest that much of the fertility decline that occurs during an economic decline is postponement of childbearing and does not represent a decision to have fewer children," the study's authors write. "In other words, people put off having children during the economic downturn, and then catch up on fertility once economic conditions improve." Politico

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. more