Recession's After-Effect: Plunging Birth Rates

Neil Shah  |   May 1, 2015

The impact of the Great Recession is still revealing itself, and a new report released by the Urban Institute suggests it caused a major plunge in birth rates among women in their 20s.

Birth rates for U.S. women in their 20s dropped more than 15 percent between 2007 and 2012. Among Hispanic 20-somethings, the birth rate dropped by 26 percent; it fell by 14 percent among non-Hispanic blacks and dropped by 11 percent among non-Hispanic white women in the same age group.

In 2012, American women in their 20s were having children at a pace that the Urban Institute reports is the “slowest pace of any generation of young women in U.S. history.” And six years following the end of the Great Recession, a rebound in the U.S. fertility rate has yet to come. For every 1,000 U.S. women of childbearing age—15 to 44—there were just 62.5 births in 2013. That is down from 63 births in 2012—and a new record low, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. As a result, Millennials could end up having smaller families than Gen Xers.

Read moreU.S. Home Ownership Rate Plunges to 25-Year Low and Housing's Big Game Changer: Marriage Delays

But the economy isn’t the only cause to blame. The report notes that women in general have been showing a trend of delaying having children until their 30s for quite some time. The researchers note that the recession also reduced immigration, which could have a downward affect on the national birthrate.

However, some researchers don’t believe there will be a baby rebound, even as the economy picks up. Instead, women in their early 20s who went through the recession may be more likely to forgo births than to just postpone them, according to Princeton University researchers Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt.

“In the near future, there will be at least a temporary drop in the number of very young children,” according to the Urban Institute’s report. “If these low birth rates to women in their 20s continue…the U.S. might eventually face the type of generational imbalance that currently characterizes Japan and some European countries.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal