Friday, August 27, 2010

U.S. Births decline in 2009

by Bill McBride on 8/27/2010 04:03:00 PM

From the National Center for Health Statistics: Births, Marriages, Divorces, and Deaths: Provisional Data for 2009

The NCHS reports that U.S. births declined to 4.136 million in 2009, from 4.247 million in 2008. The birth rate declined to 13.5 from 13.9 in 2008 (births per 1000 total population).

Here is a long term graph of annual U.S. births through 2009 ...

U.S. Births per Year Click on graph for larger image in new window.

Births have declined for two consecutive years, and are now 4.2% below the peak in 2007. I suspect certain segments of the population were under stress before the recession started - like construction workers - and even more families were in distress in 2008 and 2009. Of course it takes 9 months to have a baby, so families in distress in 2009 probably put off having babies in 2010 too.

Notice that the number of births started declining a number of years before the Great Depression started. Many families in the 1920s were under severe stress long before the economy collapsed. By 1933 births were down by almost 23% from the early '20s levels.

Of course economic distress isn't the only reason births decline - look at the huge decline following the baby boom that was driven by demographics. But it is common for births to slow or decline during tough economic times in the U.S. - and that appears to be happening now.

Last year I guessed that we'd see further declines in births in 2009 (now confirmed) and probably in 2010. But I don't think the declines in births will be anything like what happened during the 1920s.

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