From baby boom to baby bust, the number of births in the United States has fallen, and the recession is being blamed. From 2007 through 2009, births fell four percent to 4,131,019, according to a recent report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of births in the United States reached an unprecedented high of 4,316,233 in 2007, according to the CDC report. But fertility rates—which relate the number of births to women in the childbearing years of 15-44—fell four percent from 69.5 to 66.7 births per 1,000 women, a more rapid decrease than for any two year period in more than 30 years.
However, while birth rates declined for mothers under age 40, they rose six percent for mothers ages 40-44 and over, suggesting that recession or not, these women felt a biological imperative. This age group represented only three percent of total births in 2009.
A 2010 analysis by the Pew Research Center of 25 states for which final 2008 birth numbers were available also suggested a link between the recession and decreased birth rates. It found that states with the most significant birth rate declines were among those “that experienced larger economic changes. The report found “strong associations” between the magnitude of state-level birth rate change from 2007 to 2008 and declines in per capita income, housing, gross domestic product, unemployment benefits, and housing foreclosure rate.
Among these 25 states, Arizona’s birth rate declined more than 4 percent in 2008 compared with the previous year, the largest change. Its decline in per capita income in 2007, the report said, ranked second among these 25 states and its housing price change ranked sixth. Florida, which has the fourth-largest decline in birth rates among the 25 surveyed states in 2008, had a 0.5 percent decline in per capita income the previous year and a 2 percent foreclosure rate, both of which ranked worst among this group of states.
A decline in the birth rate could have serious implications for the economy, noted The Fiscal Times in a recent report: “Governments face the dire consequences of having a small working public supporting an aging population—a combination that could topple not only social programs for the elderly, but the entire economy.”
Among the key concerns of Mass Affluent investors with a net worth between $500,000 and $1 million (not including primary residence) are the financial situation of their children or grandchildren (59 percent), financing their children’s education (43 percent—a number that jumps to 59 percent for investors ages 54 and younger), and having someone to take care of them in their senior years (50 percent). It would not be surprising that the recession would cause people to rethink becoming parents at this time.
In 2009, the Department of Agriculture estimated that the cost of raising a child was $286,050 for middle income families. This did not include the cost of college. Breaking down child-rearing expenditures from birth to age 17, it found that parents spent most on housing (31 percent), child care and education (17 percent) and transportation (13 percent), followed by food (16 percent) and health care (8 percent).