The U.S. birth rate has plummeted to its lowest point in 25 years as would-be parents postpone having babies due to the poor economy.
The average number of births per woman has fallen 12 per cent from a peak of 2.12 in 2007, when the economy began to falter.
Now the rate is predicted to hit just 1.87 this year and 1.86 next year, the lowest since 1987, according to birthrate forecasters Demographic Intelligence.
The forecasters, who produce quarterly predictions for consumer and pharmaceutical companies, said the rate is not expected to rise again for at least two years, USA Today reported.
They noticed a stark difference between race, with the less-educated and Hispanics suffering the largest decline.
But the share of births to non-Hispanic whites and Asian Americans with college educations has grown, the company told USA Today.
‘What that tells you is that births have clearly been affected by the economy,’ Sam Sturgeon, president of Demographic Intelligence, said.
‘And like any recession, it doesn’t hit all people equally, and it hit some people much harder than others.’
He added that the effect of the economy on births has been quicker and more enduring than any slump since the Great Depression.
‘Usually consumer sentiment bounces back a little quicker,’ Sturgeon said. ‘There’s a sense of hesitancy, especially for those of prime child-bearing age. The key word would be uncertainty, a lot of uncertainty.’
Other analysts said the decline could affect birthrates for years to come.
‘The more you delay it, the more you delay the possibility of a second or third child,’ Stephanie Coontz, director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families, said.
She added that women are choosing to have just one child due to the expense of college and the belief that degrees are imperative for a job.
For more than two decades, the U.S. fertility rate has stayed close to 2.1 – the number of children each woman must have to maintain the size of the current population.
This compares to countries such as Taiwan, where the rate is just 1.1, causing concern about an aging population and lack of young workers.
Demographic Intelligence tracks fertility trends for companies in order to predict how products, such as diapers, toys, cribs and children’s medicines, will be affected.