Birth rate hits 25-year low as economy falters

Published: Monday, Oct. 5 2015 8:01 p.m. MDT

New born Inka Angelina Gotschlich is seen in her bed at the Auguste-Victoria-Clinic in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007. (Associated Press) New born Inka Angelina Gotschlich is seen in her bed at the Auguste-Victoria-Clinic in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2007. (Associated Press)

A tanked economy has young would-be parents choosing to wait to have children. And that has America's birth rate at its lowest point in a quarter-century, according to Demographic Intelligence's July U.S. Fertility Forecast.

The Virginia-based company provides quarterly birth forecasts that are widely read by many, including manufacturers and marketers of such products as diapers, cribs, minivans and baby bottles, according to an article in USA Today. In Demographic Intelligence releases, the company says its forecasts have been more than 98 percent accurate.

Women averaged 2.12 births in 2007, but the recession has created a 12-percent drop in average number of births per woman. And the forecast predicts 1.87 this year and 1.86 next year, which would be the lowest number since 1987.

"The ongoing decline in total births is particularly striking because the Echo Boom generation, the children of the Baby Boomers, is moving into childbearing age. This means that the number of women in their prime childbearing age is now surging, which should have led to an increase in the overall number of children born each year. But this baby boomlet has so far failed to materialize because today's young adults are concerned about their current employment status and future economic prospects," Demographic Intelligence said in a media release over Globe Newswire.

The report noted that fertility fell most among women under 30, with a drop of more than 6 percent among women 25-29, 14 percent among women 20-24 and 20 percent among teenage women.

"Clearly, younger women and their partners have been hit hardest, economically speaking, by the recession, and it shows in their childbearing patterns, Sturgeon said in a written statement.

That doesn't mean plans to have children fell. The average American woman, the group said, "still intends to have more than 2.2 children over her lifetime."

The decrease in births is not across demographic groups. The birth rate of Asians and non-Hispanic whites who have attended college is growing. The largest decreases have been among less-educated women and Hispanics.

"What that tells you is that births have clearly been affected by the economy," Sam Sturgeon, president of Demographic Intelligence, told USA Today's Haya El Nasser. "And like any recession, it doesn't hit all people equally and it hit some people much harder than others."

Just two quarters ago, a fertility forecast from Demographic Intelligence had declared the "Baby Bust" over, but the economy has continued to stagnate more than expected. Earlier, it had projected an increase to 1.98 children this year.

“It’s expensive to take care of kids on the whole,” Brooklyn resident and mother of three Kimeisha Kennedy, 28, told the New York Post. “Having a kid while the economy is bad will stop you from doing things parents want to do." She said she waited because of the slumping economy.

The new fertility report said there were 4.3 million babies born in 2007, falling to to 3.9 million in 2011.

The CIA's World Factbook said the United States ranked 121st worldwide in childbearing, with 2.06 children per woman.

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