April 29, 2015

Birth rate for young US women at lowest level ever

The birth rate for American women in their twenties has fallen to its lowest level in history following the recession, according to a new study.

The report by the Urban Institute found that between 2007 and 2012, the birth rate for twenty-something women declined by more than 15%. They calculate that this equates to 948 births per 1,000 women, the slowest pace of any generation in US history.

Co-author Nan Marie Astone attributed the decline in fertility to financial pressures caused by the great recession of 2007–2009, pointing out that historical dips in the birth rate among young people coincided with the economic crises of the early 1930s and late 1970s.

The study notes that it remains to be seen whether the millennial generation—born between 1980 and 1995—will go on to have more children later in life, or whether the current generation will have fewer children than previous ones.

Massimiliano Bratti has written for IZA World of Labor about postponed childbearing and labor market outcomes. He writes that: “While studies find that women who postpone childbearing do have a stronger labor market attachment, they also find that these women are more likely to have fewer children. Countries may want to lessen this tradeoff by investing in family-friendly policies.”

Read more about this story at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog or download the full report here.