James White at Wall Street Journal:
A report issued today by the CDC found the teen birth rate dropped 2% in 2008 and the rate for Hispanic teens hit a two-decade low. There had been declines in the birth rate for U.S. girls ages 15 to 19 between 1991 and 2005. Then increases in the birth rate among teens for the next two years had caused worry among public-health officials that the climb might be becoming permanent.
“This is good news,” said Stephanie J. Ventura of the National Center for Health Statistics, told the Washington Post regarding the latest teen data. “It might come as a surprise because people were concerned the teen birth rate was on a different course.”
Birth rates in 2008 also fell for women in their 20s and 30s, and the overall birth rate declined 2%. Officials said that could be linked to the economic downturn and a slowdown in immigration to the U.S. resulting from the weak job market.
Bucking the downward trend, however, were women over 40. Those in their early 40s posted a surprising 4% rise in their birth rate last year, reaching their highest mark since 1967. The data show that the older women got, the less willing they were to postpone a birth, the report’s lead author, Brady Hamilton of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, told the Associated Press.
Monica Potts at Tapped:
Here’s the easy answer for why women in their 40s didn’t slow down during the downturn, from the AP story: “‘You get to the point where biological clock starts ticking and people realize they have to do it,’ said [James] Trussell, who was not involved in the research.” Yes, because we all know that’s our sole reason for being.
The idea that women take their finances into consideration when they make family planning decisions shouldn’t be a huge shocker to anyone by now, but it usually pops up in stories about whether bad economic times up the abortion rate. Whether women can afford a child is a big reason behind why many decide to have abortions. And that makes total sense. According to federal government figures, it costs $196,010 for a low-income family to raise a child over his or her lifetime, and $269,040 for middle-income families. With figures like that, condescending conversations about personal responsibility and self-sacrifice don’t really mean much.
Again, with this piece, as in so many others, the mostly male doctors give the looming fertility clock tower the central role, reminding women that if they wait until their early 40s, they might not have another chance. That’s why doctors hypothesize that women continued to have babies in their 40s despite the bad economic climate. But it also seems possible that women in their 40s were financially secure enough not to have to worry about what was going on in the broader economy.
Birth rates in the United States began to decline in 2008 after rising to their highest level in two decades, and the decrease appears to be linked to the recession, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of state fertility and economic data.
This analysis is based on data from the 25 states for which final 2008 birth numbers are available. State-level indicators were used because the magnitude and timing of the recent economic decline varies from state to state, thus allowing a more nuanced analysis of links with fertility than is possible at the national level.
In 22 of these 25 states, the birth rate — the share of women of childbearing age who gave birth — declined or leveled off in 2008, compared with the previous year. In 20 of the 25 states, the number of births declined or leveled off from the previous year.
The analysis suggests that the falloff in fertility coincides with deteriorating economic conditions. There is a strong association between the magnitude of fertility change in 2008 across states and key economic indicators including changes in per capita income, housing prices and share of the working-age population that is employed across states.
The nation’s birth rate grew each year from 2003 to 2007, and has declined since then. As will be shown later in this report, the number of births also peaked in 2007 to a record level, dipped nearly two percent in 2008 and continued to decline in 2009, according to National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data. This analysis focuses on birth rate changes in 2008, the year after the national recession began. Research shows that past recessions are linked to fertility declines but that other factors also play a role.
Jim Moss at Firedoglake:
Does this mean we can expect a baby boom once the economy recovers?
There have been many stories about the decline of the birth rate in 2008, with almost all attributing it to the recession. But James Trussell raises an interesting point: doesn’t it take nine months from conception to birth? Abortion aside, to reduce births in the first three quarters of 2008 in response to a recession that started in Dec. 2007 would have taken pretty impressive rational expectations.
What are we missing?
Christine Kim at Heritage Foundation:
But the mainstream media completely ignored the most genuinely concerning trend in childbearing. In 2008, more than 4 in 10 children, or about 1.7 million births, were born to unmarried mothers.
For decades, unmarried childbearing has been trending unrelentingly upward. In 1960, about 5.3 percent of all births were to unmarried mothers. Ten years later, it had doubled to 10.7 percent. By 1980, it was 18.4 percent, and in 1990, 28 percent.
The 1996 welfare reform, which aimed to reduce out-of-wedlock childbearing as it is a primary cause of child poverty, slowed its growth rate for a few years, but by 2003, it resumed the dramatic climb, an increase of 17 percent in 5 years.
In 2008, 40.6 percent of all births in the U.S, were to unwed mothers, according to the new CDC report. While unwed teenage childbearing comprised one-half of all unmarried births in 1975, in 2008, the 133,000 births to those under age 18 comprised less than 8 percent of all unmarried births (22 percent if 18- and 19-year-olds are included).
Indeed, out-of-wedlock childbearing has largely become a twenty-something phenomenon. About 37 percent of all unwed births were to the young twenty-something, and another 23 percent to unmarried women in their late twenties.
Tom Toles at WaPo:
The debate about population has calmed quite a bit in the last few decades since we’ve learned that resources are more elastic than once thought and that trend lines show global population will crest in a half century or so, just in time to enjoy the fruits of our current carbon policies. But now the dark warnings about population come from the OTHER side: that we (as in we the developed countries) are not having ENOUGH children.The arguments as I understand them are that it’s hard to have a growing economy with a shrinking population (we’ll leave immigration for another day) and that we won’t be able to care for our retirees without more workers to foot the bill. These are serious arguments, interesting arguments, but I think there is a name for the type of system that requires ever greater numbers of people coming in to sustain the fewer that were in before: PONZI SCHEME. These are known to end badly.
How do we know what the human carrying capacity of earth is? As Warren Buffett has pointed out, we don’t know, but we do know it’s not infinite. I have my own formula. I think that until the number of species that are under severe threat because of human predation or habitat loss falls to the negligible, the presumption is there are still too many people.