Where Have All the Babies Gone?

National Journal

How's this for a snapshot of the effects of the recession and slugglish recovery on the American family?

In 2011, the United States reached a record-low birth rate. Pew researchers hypothesize that when people don't feel confident about the economy, they don't have children. But it is also possible that women are having fewer children because of larger cultural changes. Researchers expect that when the economy improves, so will the birth rates. But if they don't tick up, the effect could ripple across the decades as there will be proportionally fewer and fewer young people to support an aging population.

While the birth rates have fallen basically across the board, the decreases have hit the poorest states the hardest. According to a Pew report on the matter, "states experiencing the largest economic declines in 2007 and 2008 were most likely to experience relatively large fertility declines from 2008 to 2009." Broken down further, the report finds that Hispanics experienced the greatest fertility decline. While whites' fertility rates declined by 1.6 points between 2008 and 2009, Hispanics' declined 5.9 percent.