U.S. fertility rate isn’t recovering from big recession dip

U.S. fertility rate isn’t recovering from big recession dip

[Ed. – The story says demographers can’t figure it out.  But one very real possibility is that the biggest factor in declining fertility is the shift in economic conditions.  A “jobless recovery” has real consequences: it means lots and lots of people who’d rather be working can’t find jobs.  And a “new normal” of part-time jobs and long periods of joblessness has consequences too, denying adults in their child-bearing years the sense of independence and confidence they need to create families, as opposed to just breeding.  People aren’t rabbits.  Fertility for us is very much about hope, the future, and socioeconomic expectations.]

U.S. fertility is not recovering from the financial crisis — and demographers aren’t sure why.

The fertility rate fell to a record low 62.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 2013, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

The total number of births, at 3.96 million, inched up by a mere 4,000 from 2012, the first increase since the financial crisis. But the total fertility rate, or TFR, the average number of children a woman would have during her child-bearing years, fell to just 1.86, the lowest rate in 27 years. TFR is considered the best metric of fertility. A TFR of 2.1 represents a stable population, with children replacing parents as they die off. …

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Demographers expected the fertility rate to fall during recession, as financially strapped families put off childbearing. But what has surprised some demographers is both the depth of the decline and the fact that fertility has continued to drop even over the course of the country’s five years of slow but steady recovery. The rate has fallen steadily each year since 2007, when it stood at 2.1 percent. …

One foreseen factor behind the dropoff in childbearing is the rapid decline in Hispanic-American fertility.

For several decades, high Hispanic childbearing has been driving U.S. population growth. White fertility has been under the 2.1 replacement rate for decades, and ranged from 1.7 to 1.9 in the 2000s. The TFR for black Americans first fell below 2.1 in the early 2000s.

But the number of children per Hispanic-American woman has plummeted from just under three in 1990 and 2.7 as recently as 2008 to 2.19 in 2012, just above the replacement rate. …

But part of the post-recession drop-off in U.S. fertility was not as anticipated, namely, the dramatic shift in fertility from younger to older women.

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