"The U.S. birth rate dipped in 2011 to the lowest ever recorded," and reliable records go back to 1920, report Gretchen Livingston and D'Vera Cohn at the Pew Research Center. What's going on? The most likely culprit is financial insecurity. America's birth rate has stayed relatively steady since the mid-1970s, but that's because the higher birth rates among the increasing number of immigrants canceled out the dropping rates of U.S.-born mothers. But fertility rates tend to decline during hard economic times, the Pew researchers note, and there's been "a plunge in births to immigrant women since the onset of the Great Recession." This may be good news to immigration hawks — and more generally, for a world of ever-scarcer resources — but it's not so great for the U.S. Fewer children means fewer future young taxpayers to support a booming elderly population reliant on Social Security and Medicare. Adding to the problem, "when families are small, people rely more heavily on these programs," aging expert Ted Fishman tells Bloomberg News. "A low birth rate could be a recipe for mass poverty and isolation." So, just how big was the Great Recession baby bust? A look at the numbers:
Births per 1,000 women of childbearing age (15-44) in 2011, the lowest number on record
Births per 1,000 women in 1957, the peak of the baby boom
Percent the U.S. birth rate fell between 2007 and 2011
Percent the birth rate fell among U.S.-born women (to 58.9 per 1,000 in 2010)
Percent the U.S. birth rate dropped among foreign-born women (to 87.8 per 1,000 in 2010)
Percent the U.S. birth rate fell among Mexican immigrant women alone
Total U.S. births in 2011
Percent of women age 15-44 who were foreign-born in 2010
Percent of U.S. births to foreign-born women in 2010 (930,135 births)
Total U.S. births in 2007
Percent of U.S. births to foreign-born women in 2007 (1,069,120 births)
Total U.S. births in 1990
Percent of U.S. births to foreign-born women in 1990 (645,589 births)
Percent of immigrant births to teenage mothers in 2010
Percent of births among U.S.-born women to teenage mothers in 2010
Percent of immigrant births to mothers over 35 in 2012
Percent of births among U.S.-born women to mothers over 35 in 2010
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