Economic downturn impacts fertility

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Trend experts predict that birth rates will continue to decline as a result of the uncertain economic forecast and the high unemployment rate. NPR’s “All Things Considered” reported that data, specifically from Illinois shows that the birth rate is the lowest it’s been since the Great Depression. There is similar birth record information coming from California and Arizona.

In Illinois, the birth rate is down from 17.1 births per 1000 resident in 1990 to 13.3 births per 1000 residents according to the latest census data.

The economic recession “has affected just about everybody” and that there is “a lot of uncertainty about he future,” according to Mark Mather, associate vice president of domestic programs at the Population Reference Bureau. Up until 2008 the US birth rate has held around 2.1 children per woman, but, he continued, “some of the state level data suggest that in the coming years, we could see a drop.”

Mather pointed out that it’s a little early to call it a national trend. The downturn could be localized on a few states with significant economic issues. And it’s unknown what the causes for the reduction in births is. We do have an aging population with fewer women of childbearing age. Women are continuing to delay childbearing for career advancement.

There are other possibilities, but there are historical trends which show declining birth rates do coincide with economic doubt. According to a Pew Research Center report and senior research Gretchen Livingston, “When things are tough economically, fertility goes down.”

Source: National Partnership for Women & Families, Medical News Today


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