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Sunday, August 11, 2013

U.S. Births "essentially unchanged" in 2012 after Declining for Four Consecutive Years

by Calculated Risk on 8/11/2013 11:28:00 AM

This provisional data for 2012 was released in June and shows a possible impact of the great recession ...

From the National Center for Health Statistics: Recent Trends in Births and Fertility Rates Through December 2012. The NCHS reports:

The provisional count of births in the United States for the 12-month period ending December 2012 was 3,958,000, essentially unchanged from the 3,953,593 births (preliminary total) for 2011. The trend in the number of births was down, having declined steadily from the historic high of 4,316,233 in 2007 through 2011 but slowing from 2010 to 2011, and is essentially flat from 2011 to 2012.

The provisional fertility rate in the United States for 2012 was 63.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44, unchanged from the rate in 2011. Like the number of births, the trend in the fertility rate was down, having declined steadily from the recent high of 69.3 in 2007 through 2010 but slowing from 2010 to 2011, and is unchanged from 2011 to 2012.
Here is a long term graph of annual U.S. births through 2012 ...

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

Births had declined for four consecutive years, and are about 8.3% below the peak in 2007 (births in 2007 were at the all time high - even higher than during the "baby boom"). 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 through 2012. And this led to fewer babies.

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 not surprising that the number of births slow or decline during tough economic times - but that appears to be ending now.

My guess is births will increase further in 2013 as confidence slowly improves.