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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

U.S. Births per Year

by Calculated Risk on 4/07/2010 07:02:00 PM

There is a new report1 from researchers at the CDC, released yesterday, showing that U.S. births declined about 2% in 2008 from 2007.

The preliminary number of 2008 US births was 4,251,095, down nearly 2 percent from the 2007 peak; the 2008 general fertility rate (68.7 per 1,000) also declined.
Apparently some people are blaming the decline in births on the recession.

From Professor Krugman: Birds And Bees Blogging
There have been many stories about the decline of the birth rate in 2008, with almost all attributing it to the recession. But James Trussell [2] raises an interesting point: doesn’t it take nine months from conception to birth?
That calls for a graph ...

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

First, I think the decline in 2008 was relatively small from the record year in 2007.

Second, I wouldn't be surprised if certain segments of the population were under stress before the recession started (like construction workers).

Third, notice that the number of births started declining sharply a number of years before the Great Depression started. Many families in the 1920s were under severe stress long before the economy collapsed.

So my guess is the decline in births is related to the recession (the segment of the population that was hit first), and I'd expect further declines in 2009 and probably in 2010. But I don't think the declines in births will be anything like what happened during the 1920s.

1 Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Ventura SJ. Births: Preliminary data for 2008. National vital statistics reports web release; vol 58 no 16. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. Released April, 2010.

2 James Trussell, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs and Director of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University