New demographic statistics tell story of a changing America

Published: Friday, Oct. 12 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

A recent report shows that last year's U.S. fertility rate fell to the lowest rate in recorded history.

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Our take: For the past week, various news outlets have been analyzing the recent demographics report by the CDC. The birth data places the U.S.'s fertility rate at its lowest in recorded history.

While many have tied the decreasing fertility rate to the current economic climate, Jonathan V. Last of the Weekly Standard argues that breaking down the numbers by age and ethnicity tells a different story. The new look shows both the good news and bad news of the decline.

It's demographics time again! Last week, the CDC released its preliminary birth data for 2011. Much of the analysis focused on the raw number of births, which declined for the fourth straight year. America's general fertility rate is now the lowest it's ever been. Which is not great news.

In the press and the blogs, people focused on the correlation between the birth rate and the Great Recession. And there's a lot to that. Economics is an important driver of fertility. But there's more going on here, and while this birth data may seem highly abstract, when you drill down into the numbers you see a very particular story about what American culture is like at this moment.

So indulge me for a moment while we take a brief walking tour.

Read more about The falling fertility rate on The Weekly Standard.

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