Other recent Pew research has found that younger adults and those with lower incomes are more likely than others to have delayed childbearing because of the recession. And a recent national report called "Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America," by the National Marriage Project, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and the RELATE Institute suggested that privileged Americans are delaying marriage and having children, instead using their 20s to accumulate experience and financial footing.
That study's authors told the Deseret News that those with college degrees will likely produce privileged children with predictable opportunities. Delays in marriage age give well-educated women, in particular, and their future children a chance to get ahead. The other, larger group of kids will have to work harder and will have fewer opportunities to move up socially and economically.
The Pew study did not look at the recession's impact on fertility, but Livingston's other work found indications that the recession contributes to a lower fertility rate and that a better economy might boost the birth rate, at least a bit.
"On one hand, general declines in the birth rates have been going on for decades and declines are bigger for the less educated than for the more-educated," Livingston said. "There's no reason to think that would change in economic recovery. But just the fertility drop that occurred during the recession might cause some bounce back if there's recovery."
In the report, new moms were women 15 to 44 who had given birth in the past year. To look at 2008 to 2011, Livingston and Cohn used data from the American Community Survey. To go further back, they used a similar but not identical set of data that included a small share of women who adopted or had stepchildren and excluded women who gave birth in the last year but did not live with their children. Findings were similar.
The U.S. Census Bureau said in 2011 that 4.1 million women reported having given birth within the past 12 months. It said 36 percent of those women were unmarried at the time of the survey, up from 31 percent in 2005, the earliest year data was available from the American Community Survey.
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