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CDC: US Birth Rate Falls to Historic Low

By John Morgan   |   Tuesday, 10 Sep 2013 07:48 AM

The U.S. birth rate has hit a fresh low, and experts say the poor economy is probably the romance-killing culprit responsible for the decline.

Fresh numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show the nation's fertility rate slumped to a record low in 2012, with 63.0 births per 1,000 women of childbearing years. That beat the previous all-time low of 63.2 in 2011

It takes 2.1 children per woman for a generation to replace itself, or break even in size, and U.S. births have been below replacement level since 2007, according to CNNMoney. American women now give birth to an average of 1.8 children, the CDC estimated.

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"If there are fewer younger people in the United States, there may be a shortage of young workers to enter the labor force in 18 to 20 years," University of New Hampshire demographer Kenneth Johnson told CNNMoney. "A downturn in the birth rate affects the whole economy."

The decline accelerated during the recession that ended in 2009, with high unemployment putting a damper on many young peoples' plans to start families. A Pew Research Center study found 22 percent of 18 to 34 year olds surveyed in 2011 had postponed having a baby because of the bad economy, and that 36 percent of millennials in 2012 still lived with their parents.

However, CNNMoney reported, demographers believe the U.S. birth decline is now leveling off. Demographic Intelligence, a company that predicts birth rates for clients like Disney, Fisher-Price and Gerber, predicts the rate will actually rise in 2013 to 1.9 children per women because the economy is rebounding.

CNNMoney noted that birth rates might be the ultimate lagging indicator, since they reflect decisions made at least nine months earlier. By many accounts, the U.S. economy has improved in recent months, especially compared to the recession's trough.

The CDC figures showed the teen birth rate declined 6 percent in 2012. There were 29.4 births per 1,000 teenagers 15-19 years old in 2012 compared to 31.3 in 2011, an historic low. Birth rates for women in their 20s also fell last year, but birth rates for women in their 30s and early 40s rose last year, the Journal said.

U.S. birthrates also sank sharply during the Great Depression of the 1930s. After World War II ended, the baby-boom generation, a huge bulge in the population, was born.

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