US birth rate in 2009 reaches record low amid recession woes

PRI President Steve Mosher
PRI President Steve Mosher


A report issued on Friday showed the U.S. birth rate in 2009 falling to the lowest in a century. Experts, including president Steve Mosher from the Population Research Institute, (PRI) have cited the current economic recession as a significant factor in the recent numbers.

On Aug. 27, the Associated Press (AP) detailed a report issued by the National Center for Health Statistics which showed that the birth rate in the U.S. fell 2.7 percent in 2009 – an all time low in the last 100 years.

The AP cited the opinion of researchers that the current economic recession could be responsible for the drop in the numbers and also reported that the birth rate has been falling in the U.S. over the last century.

According to the report, the birth rate fell to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people last year. That number is down from 14.3 in 2007 and even further away from 30 percent in 1909, when it was more common for U.S. citizens to have larger families.

“The birthrate, after rising to near replacement a few years ago, is now falling dramatically because of the ongoing recession,” Steve Mosher, president of Population Research Institute wrote to CNA in an e-mail. “Young couples who may have lost jobs or income are putting off having children until the economic situation improves.”
Mosher explained that birth rates “have been dropping throughout the 20th century because of urbanization, industrialization, and increasing levels of education (which postpone marriage and childbearing), but the Great Depression of the Thirties saw a sudden and sharp decline in fertility, for the same reasons that we are seeing a decline now.”

“The baby boom of the Fifties was largely a Catholic phenomenon,” he added, “as Catholic couples, after curbing their fertility during the Great Depression and during World War II, began averaging four children.”

Mosher also made reference to “anecdotal evidence” showing “that rates of contraception, sterilization and abortion are probably all on the rise, sadly, as couples prevent or eliminate children that they do not now think they can afford.”  

“The legalization of abortion by Roe V. Wade, caused about one-third of U.S. pregnancies to end in abortion, and dropped the U.S. birth rate below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman over her reproductive lifetime down to 1.7 or so,” the PRI president said. “The years since, until recently, have shown a gradual climb back up to replacement.”

“This decline in births is more evidence that the stimulus package, hailed by the current administration as the solution to our economic ills, is not working,” Mosher asserted. “Every drop in the birth rate affects the baby boomers as well, for it hastens the day that the social security trust fund goes insolvent.”

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