US Birth Rate Tumbles in Recession

It hasn't been this low in about a century
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 27, 2010 5:40 PM CDT
US Birth Rate Tumbles in Recession
A surprised baby on Flickr.   (Flickr)

Forget the Dow and the GDP. Here's the latest economic indicator: The US birth rate has fallen to its lowest level in at least a century as many people apparently decided they couldn't afford more mouths to feed. The birth rate dropped for the second year in a row since the recession began in 2007, falling to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people. That's down from 14.3 in 2007.

"When the economy is bad and people are uncomfortable about their financial future, they tend to postpone having children," says a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins. "We saw that in the Great Depression the 1930s and we're seeing that in the Great Recession today." The birth rate dipped below 20 per 1,000 people in 1932 and did not rise above that level until the early 1940s. Recent recessions, in 1981-82, 1990-91 and 2001, all were followed by small dips in the birth rate. (Read more birth rate stories.)

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