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Recession Hits Baby-Making Business

birth rateChildren aren’t cheap. In fact, the cost of raising a child born in 2009 to age 17 ranges from anywhere between $160,000-$369,000, according to U.S. government estimates.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that given the state of the American economy, fewer women are giving birth. The number of babies born in the United States dropped 2.6 percent last year, CNN reports.

The birth rate, which takes into account changes in the population, fell to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people in 2009, from 13.9 births in 2008, and 14.3 births in 2007, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics.

“The birth rate is falling because of the Great Recession. When people are unsure of their financial future, they tend to postpone having children,” Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University, told CNN.

For the past couple of years — since the economic downturn first began in late 2007 — the U.S. birth rate has been declining. In 2007, when the economy was still on solid ground, more babies were born in the United States than any other year in history.

The past couple of years represent worst decline in the birth rate since the Great Depression, when roughly 20 percent of women didn’t have children. Cherlin predicts that the U.S. could hit the same percentage again if the economy continues to lag.

The number of babies born in the United States last year dropped to 4,136,000 from 4,247,000 in 2008, according to these recent statistics.

“I think it’s likely to be a few years before this turns around,” said Cherlin, who pointed out that it will take time for people to regain their confidence in the economy.

Did you postpone having kids for economic reasons? Do you predict a baby boom if — and when — the economy picks up?

Photo: flickr/Jon Ovington

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