Just How Much Did the Recession Make 20-Somethings Delay Children? – Real Time Economics

American 20-somethings had children in 2012 at a pace that would lead to 948 births per 1,000 women over their lifetimes, meaning less than one child per woman—the “slowest pace of any generation of young women in U.S. history,” the Urban Institute said.

That the Great Recession of 2007-09 made Americans have fewer kids is no surprise, but a new study shows how big the toll was.

Birth rates for U.S. women in their 20s dropped more than 15% between 2007 and 2012, just before and after the recession, the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan policy research group, said in a new analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention released Tuesday.

Among Hispanic 20-somethings, the birth rate dropped 26%. Non-Hispanic blacks? 14%. By contrast, non-Hispanic white 20-somethings saw an 11% decline.

All told, American 20-somethings had children in 2012 at a pace that would lead to 948 births per 1,000 women over their lifetimes, meaning fewer than one child per woman—the “slowest pace of any generation of young women in U.S. history,” Urban said.

Put simply, millennials could end up having smaller families than Gen Xers—and partly due to the recession.

Past downturns, most notably the Great Depression, temporarily depressed the nation’s fertility rate. In some cases, women who postponed childbearing simply made up for lost time later; in especially bad recessions, many women may simply end up with smaller families.

Six years after the recession ended, a rebound in U.S. fertility has yet to show up in the numbers. For every 1,000 U.S. women of childbearing age—15 to 44—there were just 62.5 births in 2013, down from 63 births in 2012 and a new record low, CDC data show.

Of course, many things affect fertility, not just the economy.

The recession reduced immigration, which lowers fertility since recent immigrants tend to have higher birth rates. More women are putting off having children until their 30s, and Hispanic and African-American women have been having fewer children for a while.

The next batch of numbers—the economy picked up in the second half of 2014 and saw strong job growth—could finally contain proof of the long-anticipated birth rebound.

But Urban’s study is the latest to suggest how big and lasting the Great Recession’s footprint on young-adult fertility could be.

Last fall, a paper by Princeton University researchers Janet Currie and Hannes Schwandt cast doubt on the notion of a baby rebound.

Women in their early 20s who went through the recession, the researchers said, are likely to forgo births, not just postpone them.

In its study, Urban found that, across racial and ethnic groups, the recession accelerated a long-term decline in the share of women married in their 20s. The recession also generally brought a decrease in the birth rates of unmarried women.

Among Hispanic 20-something women, more than 60% of the total decrease in fertility between 2007 and 2012 could be explained by falling birth rates among the unmarried, Urban said. For non-Hispanic blacks, even more of the decrease—more than 75%—was linked to a drop in unmarried women’s rates. For non-Hispanic white women, about 80% of the decrease was linked to declining marriage rates.

“In the near future, there will be at least a temporary drop in the number of very young children,” Urban said. “If these low birth rates to women in their 20s continue…the U.S. might eventually face the type of generational imbalance that currently characterizes Japan and some European countries.”

Related reading:

More U.S. Women Are Going Childless

First Comes the ‘Marriage Gap,’ Then Comes the ‘Baby Gap’

What If American Women Never Have The Children They Delayed Because of the Recession?

Baby Bust Threatens Growth



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28 April 2015 | 4:00 am – Source: blogs.wsj.com


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