As a 23-year-old recent college graduate, I know I will not be having children within the next five years. This isn’t for lack of wanting–in fact, I’m almost too excited to have kids and have been eagerly awaiting the day when I will since I was at least 17. But this isn’t an option for me right now, nor in the next several years, as it’s simply not financially feasible for me. While I have a job that allows me to take care of myself, I know it wouldn’t be responsible for me to bring another being into this world when I don’t think I could provide everything without a considerable amount of assistance. And according to the Pew Research Center’s Social Trends division, I’m not alone in this mindset.
Their analysis shows that 2011′s birthrate was the lowest ever recorded since statistics started being kept in 1920. There were 63.2 babies per 1,000 women of childbearing age last year–a little over half of what it was during the Baby Boom, which was a whopping 122.7 babies per 1,000.
Researchers believe the drop is largely due to the economy, as families are less able to care for more children. After all, it’s gotten steadily lower each year since 2007, falling from 69.3 per 1,000 women to 64 per 1,000 in 2010.
In addition, immigrant women have had a huge reduction in the number of births, though they still have a disproportionately high percentage–they make up 17% of the population, yet birthed 23% of the nation’s babies. One Pew researcher who co-wrote the study, Gretchen Livingston, stated that ”Immigrants were particularly hard hit… Hispanics were hardest hit by a loss of wealth, loss of jobs and increase in poverty,” which could’ve led to a 14% decline in foreign-born women’s birthrates and a 23% drop in Mexican women’s.
As we’ve pointed out before, birthrates hit a CDC record high in 2007, so these new numbers show a stark contrast between pre-recession family planning versus post. There are certainly many potential reasons the birthrate has been altered so considerably in such a short period of time, but it does make me curious to see what will happen in the event that there’s an economic upturn.