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U.S. birth rate falls again, a possible effect of economic downturn

The number of babies born in the United States has dropped for the second year in a row, according to new federal statistics released Friday that provide more evidence that the nation's economic troubles are affecting the birth rate.

Provisional data for 2009 found that an estimated 4,136,000 babies were born in the United States in 2009, a 2.6 percent drop from 2008, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

The drop follows a 2 percent fall in births that occurred between 2007 and 2008, which pushed the nation's fertility rate below 2.1 per woman, meaning Americans were no longer giving birth to enough children to keep the population from declining.

That drop prompted speculation that the fall was the result of the recession--a notion supported by an analysis of data from 25 states, including Maryland and Virginia, that was released in April by the Pew Research Center. The report found that states that tended to suffer most from the recession had the biggest declines in births.

While the new report can not determine whether the drop is definitely tied to the economy, the National Center for Health Statistics, in a statement released with the new numbers said "there is quite possibly a connection between the decline in births and the economic downturn of the last couple of years." Two consecutive years of declines "would be consistent with that," given that the recession started the year before, the center said..

By Rob Stein  |  August 27, 2010; 10:54 AM ET
Categories:  Economy , Motherhood , Women's Health  
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Comments

It's true...those Americans who are still working, paying their mortgage and paying taxes are being responsible...don't bring someone into the world whom we can't support.

It would be nice if those here illegally had the same moral compass.

Posted by: samwoods77 | August 27, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Super! Now if we could get the rest of the world to follow suit, perhaps we could actually move toward a sustainable world. Until world population declines, that won't be possible, and we may be past the point of no return if we wait for Malthusian forces to make it happen.

Posted by: suevee | August 27, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

People tend to Plant Seeds where they feel the future is!

Most Child Bearing Aged Americans realize that Our future has been SOLD OUT!

I am currently in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. I see NO FUTURE HERE! I am currently deciding whether to try to get set up back in Hawaii, or possibly just write off this Country that has betrayed ME so badly, for maybe Australia or Peru!

The LAST thing I intend to do here, is start any Family at this point!

Posted by: SAINT---The | August 27, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Birth rate falls in concert with worst downturn since the Great Depression and a reporter has to ask if the two are related. Hell yeah they're related.

I take it as good news that people are seriously paying attention to the world around them and acting responsibly; despite the best efforts of the religious right to deny young people information on birth control.

Anyway, if people want a good discussion of birth rates world over they only need to get a copy of "Fewer" by Ben Wattenberg. He points out that birth rates the world over are falling, with the lowest birth rate in Europe, ironically, in heavily Catholic Italy, being 1.1 live births per woman of child bearing age. I guess NO ONE listens to the Pope anymore, and as Martha would say, "It's a good thing."

Posted by: 809212876 | August 27, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse


Maybe it is a response to the economic headlock child bearing age couples will face trying to raise children and carry the weight of medical care for their elders under Obamacare.

Posted by: edbyronadams | August 27, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"It would be nice if those here illegally had the same moral compass."

The number, 4,136,000 babies were born in the United States in 2009, does not exclude babies born to illegal immigrants.

Sooo ... republican claims that baby dropping Mexican terrorists are overwhelming our population is a myth.

Posted by: knjincvc | August 27, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The U.S. birth rate declining has nothing to do with the economy. In fact, it's just the opposite. The poor a country is the higher the birth rate and the more prosperous and educated a country is the lower the birth rate.

Posted by: buffysummers | August 27, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"It would be nice if those here illegally had the same moral compass."

The number, 4,136,000 babies were born in the United States in 2009, does not exclude babies born to illegal immigrants.

Sooo ... republican claims that baby dropping Mexican terrorists are overwhelming our population is a myth.

Posted by: knjincvc | August 27, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

so we have have 12 million illegals in the country to more than makeup for the shortfall in the birth rate!!

Posted by: astroman215aolcom | August 27, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Trapped between devasting joblessness, electronically-airbrushed pornsters and debilitatingly complaining wives, is it any wonder that American men can't get it up anymore?

Posted by: Whispers | August 27, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

"I am currently in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. I see NO FUTURE HERE! I am currently deciding whether to try to get set up back in Hawaii, or possibly just write off this Country that has betrayed ME so badly, for maybe Australia or Peru!"

Well as you know 40% of Americans do not believe Hawaii is a state so if you were born in Hawaii they don't believe you are an Amurican.

As for immigrating to Australia, depending on your occupation, net worth etc you will probably need a sponsor.

Posted by: knjincvc | August 27, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

And the abortion ghouls keep chanting - kill the babies!

Posted by: pgr88 | August 27, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

The birth rate is dropping and this is bad news? Well, population increases of even a few percent a year amount to exponential growth which, as we are seeing, is unsustainable. Let the US birth rate drop even more, but, by the way, make sure it drops everywhere in the world too. And get the word to those fundamentalist fools as well, you know, the ones doing the Lord's will by having 10-12 or more kids.

Posted by: jrw1 | August 27, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Good. There's too many of us as it is.

Posted by: nicekid | August 27, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse


Not for Muslim women however. Their fertility rate is much higher than Christians in every country that has been studied. In Europe the birth rate for Muslim women 18-24 is double that for non-Muslim women.

Posted by: screwjob21 | August 27, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Just as long as this applies to Alaska too.

Posted by: sufi66 | August 27, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

@ buffysummers: I'm afraid you are mistaken as a result of oversimplification. Birth rate has everything to do with the economy. It is true that the birthrate in less developed countries tends to be higher, but this has to do with the type and condition of the economy. Many lesser developed countries (LDCs) have rural agrarian economies where more children means more wealth as each child contributes more to the family farm than they consume. In urbanized US, Europe and Japan, additional children become 'another mouth to feed'. LDCs also have reduced access to birth control and information on reproductive health.

Anyway, wasn't there a baby boom in 2007 (when the economy was strong)? So it's a decline, yes, but down from a very high peak.

Posted by: WorldCup | August 27, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

@ knjincvc, Not sure why you were so furious at another poster's observation and chose to resort to name-calling; after all, comments pages are for opinions, but here are the facts - and we all, including you if you're here legally, are paying their expenses at birth and beyond, even if we can't afford to have kids of our own. Source: pewhispanic.org

Unauthorized Immigrants and Their U.S.-Born Children
An estimated 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the United States in 2008 were the offspring of unauthorized immigrants, according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center. Unauthorized immigrants comprise slightly more than 4% of the adult population of the U.S., but because they are relatively young and have high birthrates, their children make up a much larger share of both the newborn population (8%) and the child population (7% of those younger than age 18) in this country.

Posted by: Voter4Integrity | August 27, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

This article is ludicrous; a perfect example of illusory correlation. If anything, the evidence points in the other direction; over long periods of time, birth rate goes down as economic circumstances improve, not the reverse as is suggested by the article. What passes for "health science" these days is laughable.

Posted by: RandFan | August 27, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

"Not for Muslim women however. Their fertility rate is much higher than Christians in every country that has been studied. In Europe the birth rate for Muslim women 18-24 is double that for non-Muslim women."
***WOW. The ignorance in this post is beyond words. Do you also believe that Obama is not a US Citizen? You shoukld educate yourself. Listne to something other than Rush Limbaugh! Take the horse blinders off and embrace the diversity that is and has always been this country

Posted by: getoverurself | August 27, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh plz, the birth rate of Americans are down because we are smart enough not to have children we cannot afford, however, we can't say the same for the illegals, everywhere you look there are pregnant hispanics from 13 to 50.

Posted by: highwaybluesoccer | August 27, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I hope the same birthrate decline is for the illegals...although probably not since they will overtake us in 2040...

Posted by: mark0004 | August 27, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

The United States should do what the French do, pay people to have children. Not only do mothers get a year off when a child is born, if you have four children, they give you a new Citroen station wagon!

Here in the US people are struggling to raise the children they already have. Actually, immigrants are the bright spot in the economic picture, they have more children and often, they tend to do better economically than native born Americans, probably because they put a higher value on a good education and don't think that simply being American entitles them to anything. That kind of attitude is killing us. We need to work twice as hard to adapt, we are falling behind the rest of the world in education. Nobody seems to care. It costs money to lead, the US got a big boost from WWII, one which won't happen again. We grew up in a statistical anomaly.

We need another GI Bill, except it should apply to everybody. A BS or BA is what a high school diploma was 10 or 20 years ago. To get a good job people need an masters degree or a PhD. People need to have the context that allows them to learn new skills quickly, for their entire working lives. You wont get that in many colleges. The faculty don't know them themselves. Otherwise the US will look like the more depressed parts of Eastern Europe in 20 years, a rusted out shell of its former glory. It makes no sense building infrastructure if we don't know how to use it, building a future for our children starts with adequately funding education. We only have maybe 20 or 30 years left for the job as we know it. After that, silicon will do almost everything scriptable cheaper and better. Machines never forget. They don't start wearing out at age 30 or 40. We have eventually have to make a choice between universal education, a welfare state, or genocide.

Jobs are moving towards being task based, and shorter. People need to wear many hats. We also need to accept that people will need to retire earlier, they simply can't keep up with the pace. We should also consider a four day week to extend the period of the job a little longer.

Machines increasingly do much of the work people used to do. Unskilled, increasingly bitter humans are expensive to hire and a security risk. Who can think of children in an atmosphere of insecurity? Its not wise.

There is hope for the future. If we survive the next century, we will be poised to reach the stars. But, thats a big "if". Will we be part of the solution, or part of the problem?

Unless we suddenly realize how we are letting this country be stolen by the amoral and greedy megacorporation, the kind of futures families need may lie elsewhere, not here.

If we can't create an atmosphere people want to have children in, that is also another of many symptoms that show a much larger, deeper problem, the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, Its not going to get better unless we, as a nation decide to change it.

Hint, real CHANGE(tm) won't be televised!

Posted by: bokonon3 | August 27, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

(faith based) Adoption is a very big untaxed business. Where else can somebody make over $200k a year without a degree of any kind?

The US is a major baby exporting nation. Rich white people from all over the world come here for cheap, unregulated babies. Prices start at $50-75k! Its like the housing boom, with bidding wars and everything.

That's why we saw the Stupak amendment.

Posted by: bokonon3 | August 27, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

WorldCup - This is just another fake trend story the media loves. Couples are not deciding to forego children because of the short term economic troubles faced by some families. Birth rates in the U.S. have been declining for decades. Even during the recent boom years. If it wasn't for immigration and Latino high birth rates, the total U.S. population would be shrinking like Japan. The only correlation between the economy and birth rates is that fewer jobs mean fewer immigrants who have higher birth rates than average American families.

Posted by: buffysummers | August 27, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey bokonon3 take a drive in rush hour traffic and then tell me that we need more people on this planet.

Posted by: frantaylor | August 27, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Does this story mean pregnancies are a matter of choice? Not just serendipity? So the folks who have been choosing to have babies out of wedlock and at public expense have been doing that by choice?

Duh!

Posted by: mftill | August 27, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"It would be nice if those here illegally had the same moral compass."

The number, 4,136,000 babies were born in the United States in 2009, does not exclude babies born to illegal immigrants.

Sooo ... republican claims that baby dropping Mexican terrorists are overwhelming our population is a myth.
========================================================
Is it really a myth, or are you just ignoring the proportions to make the numbers suit your ideology?

Posted by: GEarlMoore | August 27, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

And the abortion ghouls keep chanting - kill the babies!

Posted by: pgr88

Who exactly is chanting that? I've never heard of anyone even saying such a thing. Get a clue!

Posted by: NMModerate1 | August 27, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Just imagine being so responsible that you do not have children for whom you cannot provide! What a concept!!!

Posted by: abbydelabbey | August 27, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

"Based on official data on religion, national origin, and other indicators of ethnic origin, Muslim fertility in 13 European countries is higher than that for other women, but in most countries with trend data the differences are diminishing over time"


Charles F. Westoff and Tomas Frejka, "Religiousness and Fertility Among European Muslims," Population and Development Review 33, no. 4 (2007): 785-809

Posted by: screwjob21 | August 27, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

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