Americas & Beyond
|Recession May Have Pushed US Birth Rate to New Low|
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August 28, 2010
The U.S. birth rate has dropped for the second year in a row, and experts think the wrenching recession led many people to put off having children. The 2009 birth rate also set a record: lowest in a century.
Births fell 2.7 percent last year even as the population grew, numbers released Friday by the National Center for Health Statistics show.
"It's a good-sized decline for one year. Every month is showing a decline from the year before," said Stephanie Ventura, the demographer who oversaw the report.
The birth rate, which takes into account changes in the population, fell to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people last year. That's down from 14.3 in 2007 and way down from 30 in 1909, when it was common for people to have big families.
"It doesn't matter how you look at it — fertility has declined," Ventura said.
The situation is a striking turnabout from 2007, when more babies were born in the United States than any other year in the nation's history. The recession began that fall, dragging stocks, jobs and births down.
"There is quite possibly a connection between the decline in births and the economic downturn," says the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes the health statistics center. "More details on the demographics of mothers who gave birth in 2009 are needed to more strongly make this connection."