No money, no babies? Historically, when economic times are tough, fewer babies are made. In the years before and after the Great Depression, the birth rate among American women 20–29 years old dropped to historic lows—and it could happen again. A new report released by the Urban Institute suggests that we may be at the precipice of a major shift in the ages when women tend to have bear children.
According to the report, "We calculate that in 2012, women in their twenties had births at a pace that would lead to 948 births per 1,000 women, by far the slowest pace of any generation of young women in U.S. history. If these low birth rates to women in their twenties continue, the U.S. might eventually face the type of generational imbalance that currently characterizes Japan and some European countries, but it is too early to predict or worry about that eventuality."
The study further reports that, between 2007 and 2012, "birth rates among women in their 20s declined more than 15 percent." The biggest culprit for the dropping number is a "dramatic" decline in the number of unmarried African American and Hispanic women having babies. And if the figures stay on the trend they're currently on, women ages 30 to 34 may become the most fertile age group for the first time ever.
The timing for this study couldn't be more relevant as this is the year that millennials are projected to be greater than the number of baby boomers—the former largest age group—in the United States. Only time will tell whether millennial women will make up for the lower birth rates by having more babies later in life, or if they will just be a generation that has fewer children than those before them.