U.S. birth rate declines with recession

By • Published: July 22nd, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The housing market and employment aren’t the only things lying low because of the recession. The economy’s also affected families in a whole different way… Americans are having fewer babies, according to a report from the Pew Research Center.

The birth rate in the U.S. …or the percentage of women of childbearing age giving birth… grew each year from 2003 to 2007. But 2008 was a different story. Of twenty-five states with birth data for that year available, twenty-two saw their birth rates drop or level off.

The Pew Research Center’s information shows that states with the poorest financial indicators in 2006 and 2007 had the largest drops in birth rates. Of the states studied, Arizona had the largest percentage decrease in birth rate from 2007 to 2008. The state also had the second worst drop in per capita income and fifth worst change in home prices in the years leading up to the birth decline.

The slump in births is not unprecedented. Previous economic declines also saw fewer new babies. Not surprisingly, the Great Depression preceded one of the most marked birth rate reductions in American history, a slide of twenty-six percent.

But they rebounded with great gusto after World War II. The result was one of the nation’s highest birth rates in the twentieth century: about one-hundred-twenty-two births per one-thousand women of childbearing age. That’s far greater than the recent high in 2007, when the birth rate for the twenty-five states studied was just shy of seventy births in one-thousand women.

So, while new births may be trending downward for a while, don’t be surprised if the stork soon starts circling again, and the end of the recession brings yet another baby boom.