Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Update on the New Baby Bust

Today the National Center for Health Statistics released its preliminary report on births in 2011, confirming the big trend of this post-Great Recession era: a baby bust is in progress. If the government's writers were permitted to use exclamation marks in their reports, this particular report would be littered with them. Take a look...

  • In 2011, there were 3,953,593 births in the United States. This was 1 percent fewer than the 3,999,386 final count for 2010 and 8 percent below the all-time high of 4,316,233 births in 2007.
  • The 2011 fertility rate fell to an all-time low of 63.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. Did you get that? All time low!
  • The birth rate for women aged 20 to 24 is the lowest ever recorded--85.3 births per 1,000 women in the age group. Young adults are postponing childbearing as they struggle in the wake of the Great Recession. 
  • Among women aged 25 to 29, the birth rate fell to 107.2 births per 1,000 women in the age group--the lowest rate since 1976, a baby-bust year. 
  • By race and Hispanic origin, the birth rate dropped the most among Hispanics--down 6 percent between 2010 and 2011 to 75.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. The rate fell 2 percent among black women to 65.5 and was unchanged among non-Hispanic white women at 58.8. 
  • Births to unmarried women fell between 2010 and 2011, but the percentage of births to unmarried women remains above 40 percent.   
  • Teenagers accounted for only 18 percent of births to unmarried women in 2011, the smallest percentage ever recorded and down from 50 percent in 1970. 
  • The first-birth rate fell to an all-time low in 2011 as young women postponed motherhood. The second-birth rate fell to the lowest level since 1940.

Bottom line: demographers will tell you that postponed childbearing means less childbearing--fewer lifetime births, smaller families, and the arrival of another baby-bust generation.

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Preliminary Data for 2011

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