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Bad Economy Still Affecting Birth Rate

a blog by Claire, July 26, 2012

Back in January, Demographic Intelligence, the Charlottesville, Va., company that produces quarterly birth forecasts pharmaceutical and consumer product companies, announced that The Baby Bust Is Over, and the total fertility rate (TFR) and number of births were rising again.

Well, according to today's headlines, not so much.

Evidently the 20-somethings are still very hesitant to have babies. (We can only imagine why with all that college debt hanging over their heads.) And evidently, this hesitation has caused the U.S. birth rate to drop to its lowest point in 25 years.

The populations that have experienced the largest declines in birth rate are the less educated and the Hispanic populations. The birth rates for college-educated, non-Hispanic whites and Asian Americans has grown, which indicates the economy has hit some groups much harder than others. (Read Older Mothers, the Economy and the Fertility Class Divide.

The average number of births has fallen 12 percent, from its 2007 peak of 2.12 in 2007. Demographic Intelligence predicts that the rate will hit 1.87 in 2012 and 1.86 in 2013, which would be the lowest rate since 1987. The replacement fertility rate (the number of births each woman must have in order to maintain the current population) is roughly 2.1 births per woman. The United States had been one of the few developed nations that maintained a TFR close to replacement rate, while other countries, such as Asia and Europe worried about aging populations.

Having babies is expensive, but waiting can be expensive, too. If you are delaying pregnancy, make sure you understand the effect age has on fertility and on IVF success rates.

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