We're Having Babies Again!

Seems people stopped having babies when the Great Recession struck.  But now they're back at it, according to Sabrina Tavernise at The New York Times.

"The sharp decline in the country’s fertility rate during the economic downturn has come to an end, federal data show, as an improving economy encouraged Americans to resume having babies," she writes.

But if I'm reading this right, it's not like our population grew in leaps and bounds. Instead, the number of babies born in the United States in 2012 remained flat, but it was the first time in five years that the number did not significantly decline, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, as Tavernise reports.

"The leveling off capped a 9 percent decline in the fertility rate from 2007 to 2011, a drop that demographers say began after the recession took hold and Americans started feeling less secure about their economic circumstances," she notes.

The decline “has come pretty close to grinding to a halt,” Tavernise quotes Carl Haub, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit research group.        

The fertility rate is the total number of babies born per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. Last year it stood at 63, down slightly from 2011. But because women are having fewer children -- due to starting later, and simply the cost of having a child -- at the current rate, women could expect 1.9 babies on average over their lifetimes, down from a high of 3.8 in 1957, Brady E. Hamilton, a demographer and an author of the report, told Tavernise.

I wasn't aware of this but the U.S.has a higher fertility rate than many other developed countries, but that's because Hispanic immigrants, who are more likely than whites to be in their childbearing years, are indeed having children. 

“There’s a widespread perception that a moderately growing population is advantageous for economic growth and for a growing society,” Hans-Peter Kohler, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, told Tavernise. “It’s exciting,” Professor Kohler said. “My prediction would be that we’ll see further stabilization and possibly growth in 2013.”

The birthrate tends to rise and fall with economic cycles. 


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