Baby Bust Continues: US Births Down for 4th Year

Mike Stobbe, My Way, October 3, 2012

U.S. births fell for the fourth year in a row, the government reported Wednesday, with experts calling it more proof that the weak economy has continued to dampen enthusiasm for having children.

But there may be a silver lining: The decline in 2011 was just 1 percent—not as sharp a fall-off as the 2 to 3 percent drop seen in other recent years.


Most striking in the new report were steep declines in Hispanic birth rates and a new low in teen births. Hispanics have been disproportionately affected by the flagging economy, experts say, and teen birth rates have been falling for 20 years.


Early data for 2012 is not yet available, and it’s too soon to guess whether the birth decline will change, said the CDC’s Stephanie Ventura, one of the study’s authors.

Highlights of the report include:


-The birth rate for Hispanic women dropped a whopping 6 percent. But it declined only 2 percent for black women, stayed the same for whites and actually rose a bit for Asian-American and Pacific Islanders.

-Birth rates fell again for women in their early 20s, down 5 percent from 2010—the lowest mark for women in that age group since 1940, when comprehensive national birth records were first compiled. For women in their late 20s, birth rates fell 1 percent.

-But birth rates held steady for women in their early 30s, and rose for moms ages 35 and older. {snip}


The new birth report also noted a fourth straight decline in a calculation of how many children women have over their lifetimes, based on the birth rates of a given year.

A rate of a little more than 2 children per woman means each couple is helping keep the population stable. The U.S. rate last year was slightly below 1.9.

Countries with rates close to 1—such as Japan and Italy—face future labor shortages and eroding tax bases as they fail to reproduce enough to take care of their aging elders.



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