Stats Suggest Recession Prevented Over 70K Babies From Being Born

By Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor) | August 10, 2009 10:58 am

birth rate map Birth rates have decreased by about 2 percent in 2008, the first year since the beginning of the decade that rates did not increase, according to statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics. Many experts speculate that this drop is due to the recession. Still, birth rate statistics have not yet been finalized, and some believe that a decrease in immigration could account for the decrease in births.

As any parent knows, children are expensive, so in a shaky economy, it makes sense that fewer people would be having them. “It’s the recession,” said [sociologist] Andrew Hacker… “Children are the most expensive item in every family’s budget, especially given all the gear kids expect today. So it’s a good place to cut back when you’re uncertain about the future” [New York Times]. Perhaps not coincidentally, the two states with the largest decrease in births–California and Florida–are also the ones that faced the biggest problems due to the housing crisis.

Since the recession began in December 2007, the economy has lost almost 7 million jobs. Housing foreclosures worsened in 2007 too, and fell into a state of crisis in 2008 [AP]. In 2008, about 4,247,000 babies were born in the U.S., a drop from 2007′s birth rate by around 68,000. Additionally, as the economy continued to worsen during early 2009, leading to more uncertainty and layoffs, the birth rate dropped even more quickly.

Although it’s impossible to definitively tie birth rates to the economy, the decreased in births has accompanied other points of economic uncertainty during U.S. history. Record lows were recorded during two economic crises: the Depression in the 1930s and the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s [New York Times].

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Image courtesy of Centers for Disease Control

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • Joanie

    My family is one of the many that will not to grow due to the recession. My husband and I both lost our jobs and employer-provided health insurance in late 2008. Had things stayed “normal”, we probably would be expecting our second by now. Instead, we’re both back in school and are balancing that with work at new jobs and the care of our three year old, leaving us no room for another pregnancy, let alone another child. It was a difficult decision to make, but we’re comfortable as a family of three.

  • Jumblepudding

    Sad thing is, only responsible people didn’t have kids because of the recession, meaning the responsibility genes do not proliferate as much. Not suggesting the good people of the green states are irresponsible, of course

  • William

    I for one think this is a good thing. With all the recent Advances in technology and healthcare, we are going to see more and more people survive that would normally perish. We have to start thinking of overpopulation as a huge risk. People talk of curing Cancer, HIV/AIDs, Malaria like its the best thing ever, True there is no greater reward than saving precious human life, but if we saved the alleged millions upon millions of people who die from these diseases each year we will be facing a problem more daunting than Global warming, lack of fresh water and food, not to mention poblems like that will become even more dire thanks to the millions upon millions of extra people that now burden our allready over burdened planet.

  • The Sine

  • http://clubneko.net robot makes music

    Which is funny, because every married couple (of childbearing age) I know has had a child in the past year. One is even having their second.

  • http://discovermagazine.com Catherine

    I don’t have kids exactly for economic reasons, I don’t even have a car, can’t afford an apartment that allows dogs, every summer is a staycation where my so & I dream of owning our very own john boat, so it drives me nuts when I get castigated as being “selfish” for not having kids I can’t afford!

  • Frank

    Catherine, I think I am in love with you. I am gearing up for my own staycation, my jeep is as broke as me and I seem surrounded by irresponsible breeders, or people who think I am selfish or gay for not having children. Forget the johnboat- I have a canoe…

  • addicted to bad

    I can afford to have kids, could afford to for the last decade, and still don’t have any because I don’t want them. That must make me an irresponsible non-breeder, and selfish to boot.
    And I’m OK with that.

  • The Sine

    If people accuse you of being selfish because you don’t have children, ask about the homeless orphans they reject in favor of promoting their own genes.

  • http://blogspot nullnor

    adoption is just a legal way to cut a baby out of another womans womb and steal it.

  • puddin head

    I am pro-choice because of illiterate, addicted children giving birth to children. Mildly retarded babies are born due to mothers’ poor diets during pregnancy, and are then cycled into the same broke down and impoverished communities for generations to come. There needs to be an off switch. Before anyone cries race or eugenics, just know that there are more white households on welfare than African American households.
    Adoption is a wonderful blessing, but people seem more eager to throw away a kids life, then offer a better opportunity.

  • http://Comcast.net Wm J. Friesen

    The drive to procreate is about as selfish as our appetite for food. Anthropologically speaking, all males are driven to inseminate as many females as possible while females are “driven” to become pregnant and take care of their offspring. We’re ga ga over babies (“they’re SO cute and precious”) but deplore the behaviour of sexually aggressive males, like Mike Tyson (as we should). Yet, the survival of all mammals is dependent on both behaviours.

  • Edwinolina

    @ Wm J. Friesen:

    I agree that in the (fairly distant, misty) past, …”the survival of all mammals (was) dependent on both behaviours.”

    In the present, the survival of not only all mammals, but most other species as well as plants and the planet as a whole – is dependent on human ability to change their behaviour.

    We have to develop new instincts in order to survive the present challenges of burgeoning population and diminishing freshwater/food sources. Our hardwired behaviours no longer serve us; quite the opposite.

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