Having more babies: US Birth Rate Rises
Published: June 17, 2015
Having more babies: US Birth Rate Rises, The rate of births among women ages 15 to 44 ticked up 1% from 2013 to 2014. That’s the first increase since 2007, the beginning of the recession, according to a study released Wednesday by theNational Center for Health Statistics.
The 3.98 million total births in 2014 was most since 2010.
Carl Haub, a senior demographer for the Population Reference Bureau, said he wasn’t surprised by the federal findings. Though the increase in fertility rate is small, he said, it could be indicative of a shifting trend. Haub said this demographic change aligns with an improving economy.
“The decline of the birth rate over the past few years can be attributed to the recession,” Haub told USA TODAY.
The economic recession also led to social problems, including an increase in child abuse and suicide. A 2010 study found shaken baby syndrome, a deadly form of child abuse, rose as a result of the recession.
“The recession is ending – we think it’s ending – for some people, so we might attribute a rise in the birth rate” to the economy, Haub said.
Laura Lindberg, principal research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, said during the economic recession, women were less well-off.
“I think as people feel their paycheck is more stable, it feels like a safe environment to have a child in,” Lindberg said.
The environment continues to look rosy. Job growth has been steadily increasing, including 223,000 jobs gained in April 2015 – the most recent statistic from the Department of Labor. And consumer spending on retail items grew in May, increasing 1.2%, according to the Department of Commerce last week.
Brady Hamilton, an author of the study, warned that researchers did not collect data on why people made certain decisions when considering having a child, adding that these findings are likely due to a “cacophony of factors.” The data came from all recorded birth certificates in the U.S.
Lindberg said the change in the general fertility rate likely won’t emulate the baby boom in the 1950s, and should be characterized more as “a short window of a patch-up period” from the recession.
The new study also found teen birth rates hit a historic low, with 24.2 births per 1,000 women – a 9% drop from 2013’s 26.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19.
The teen fertility rate has been on the decline for several years, falling more than 7% each year since 2007. The highest number of teen births ever was 644,708 in 1970. Now, the number sits at 249,067 births for 2014, which Hamilton called “amazing.”
Lindberg said the lower fertility rate could be attributed to better access of information. People now have many more options to become educated on pregnancy prevention, including school programs, youth programs, parents and the Internet.
“Even as the teen birth rate continues to decline, the majority of teen pregnancies remain unintended or accidental,” Lindberg said. “There remains room for improvement to help teens be in charge of their own fertility and only get pregnant when they wish to get pregnant.”
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