Birth Rate Dropping Due To Economy


New numbers show that the birth rate in Illinois is at it’s lowest since the Great Depression. It’s too early to say whether this is a national trend but some other states are showing lower numbers too.

On NPR, Robert Siegel talked with Mark Mather of the Population Reference Bureau to get a sense of what’s going on.

The drop in births can be charted back to around 2007 when the housing market started to implode. Traditionally fewer babies are made with the economy falters. There was a low birth rate in the 1930s, and the lowest ever during the hyperinflation of the 1970s with about 1.7 births per woman. These days we’re hovering around 2 births per woman, though we’re still waiting on new numbers, which could be lower if Illinois is any indication.

There are other demographic factors contributing to the decline in births. According to Mr. Mather, “We have more women who are postponing marriage and childbirth because of their careers. We’ve seen a drop in immigration to the United States during the recession. And so, that combined with this economic decline, I think we could see smaller groups kids moving through the educational system.”

I must say I’m a little jealous. My kids were born at the height of a baby boom in NYC and it’s been a real rat race to get into even preschool. There were not enough spots last year for many Manhattan kindergartners. I know there are benefits to being a part of a boom, but as a Gen Xer born around that 1970s lull I have never experienced them personally.

Listen to the NPR story here.

Photo: Lars Ploumann/Flickr