Weak Economy Linked to 2011 Decline in Hispanic Births

Latino birthrates declined significantly last year, likely as a result of the still-faltering economy and slow job growth, new government figures show.

Overall, the U.S. birthrate fell 1 percent in 2011, compared with previous dips of 2 percent and 3 percent since the economic meltdown. The total number of births was just under 4 million — the lowest since 1998, according to Medical Daily.

For Hispanics, the decline was 6 percent, with 912,290 Hispanic babies born last year. At 17.5 percent, the birthrate still is higher than that of any other racial group. The national birthrate is 12.7 percent.

Even after the recession was deemed over in 2009, many workers remained pessimistic about employment opportunities. The Medical Daily article argues that many would-be mothers are among the labor force that is underemployed and strapped with other financial responsibilities, forcing them to hold off on having children.

The relatively good news is that last year's decline, which was smaller than previous years, could be a signal that the recession is "coming to an end," Carl Haub, a senior demographer with the Population Reference Bureau told Medical Daily.

Highlights of the report:

  • Birthrates declined for most races. Hispanics saw the largest decline of 6 percent; blacks saw a 2 percent dip.
  • Teenage births have continued to drop more than 3 percent each year, since a peak in 1991. In 2011, teen birthrates dipped 8 percent to 33,000, a low not seen since 1946.
  • Hispanic teen births also fell by 11 percent between 2010 and 2011. Since 2007, births to Latino teen moms declined by 34 percent, the largest drop for any group.