We have discussed recently on this blog the effect of
demography on a country’s economy and the potential link between fertility
rates and the recession. Today I would like to draw your attention to an article
from USAToday which suggests that the link runs both ways.
According to demographer Sharon Kirmeyer of the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention, the struggling economy in the United States may have the added effect of women having fewer children.
Kirmeyer has released two reports that analysed historical demographic
data, including form the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“Census data show that in 2010, 18.8% of women ages 40-44 were
childless, echoing a trend from the 1930s found in the CDC
analysis. Of 100,000 women born in 1910 who turned 25 in 1935 at the height of
the Great Depression, 19.7% were childless by age 50.”
According to this statistic then, there seems to be a link
between an economic downturn and more women having no children. This is backed up by other demographers:
“”The longer this [the recession] goes on, the more likely it is to lead to a
prolonged shift in fertility,” says Mark Mather of the non-profit
Population Reference Bureau…”
“[W. Bradford] Wilcox [sociologist at the University of Virginia]
suggests “an uptick in childlessness” and one-child families.
“The recession is driving the fertility rate down. A larger share of women
will be forgoing or postponing births until the economy kicks into high
gear,” he says. The total number of births, a record 4.3 million in 2007,
dropped 7% to 4 million in 2010, he says. The total fertility rate was 2.13 births
per 1,000 women in 2007; his estimate for 2010 is 1.91 births. Wilcox says a
key element in the mix is unemployment among young adults. “It’s not just
the economy as a whole that matters, but how is the economy doing in employing
younger adults,” he says. “If the recovery kicks in a way that fuels
higher employment among young adults, it will be the most direct factor that’s
likely to lift the fertility rate again.””
This makes sense I suppose as people decide to wait for better
economic times before deciding to start or expand their families. What do you think: is this clutching at straws, or do you think it likely that there is a link as described by Kirmeyer and others?