Leslie Carol Botha: Have birthrates fallen because of the economy? Perhaps. Or perhaps the rates have fallen because more and more women and their partners are unable to conceive. Interesting to note that in other countries fertility rates are as low as 1.1 (Taiwan) and 1.3 (Portugal), and the governments are worried about their populations aging and not having enough young workers to support them.
National birthrate lowest in 25 years
By Haya El Nasser
July 25, 2012
Twenty-somethings who postponed having babies because of the poor economy are still hesitant to jump in to parenthood – an unexpected consequence that has dropped the USA’s birthrate to its lowest point in 25 years.
The fertility rate is not expected to rebound for at least two years and could affect birthrates for years to come, according to Demographic Intelligence, a Charlottesville, Va., company that produces quarterly birth forecasts for consumer products and pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and Procter & Gamble.
Marketers track fertility trends closely because they affect sales of thousands of products from diapers, cribs and minivans to baby bottles, toys and children’s pain relievers.
As the economy tanked, the average number of births per woman fell 12% from a peak of 2.12 in 2007. Demographic Intelligence projects the rate to hit 1.87 this year and 1.86 next year – the lowest since 1987.
The less-educated and Hispanics have experienced the biggest birthrate decline while the share of U.S. births to college-educated, non-Hispanic whites and Asian Americans has grown.
“What that tells you is that births have clearly been affected by the economy,” says Sam Sturgeon, president of Demographic Intelligence. “And like any recession, it doesn’t hit all people equally, and it hit some people much harder than others.”
The effect of this economic slump on birthrates has been more rapid and long-lasting than any downturn since the Great Depression.
Immigration has helped the USA maintain higher birthrates, but that segment has been hit hard by this downturn. The birthrate for Hispanics tumbled from 3 in 2007 to less than 2.4 in 2010, the latest official government statistics.