Baby Bust

U.S. Birth Rate Lowest in a Century

Where’s Al Green when you need him? Not only did the 2009 U.S. birth rate drop for a second consecutive year, but it was also the lowest birth rate in a century, with many experts blaming the economic recession for the decline. The birth rate—which accounts for population change—fell to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people last year, down from 14.3 in 2007. “It doesn't matter how you look at it, fertility has declined,” said Stephanie Ventura, the demographer who oversaw the report. In 2007, there were more babies born in the U.S. than any other year in U.S. history, but then the recession hit that fall. “When the economy is bad and people are uncomfortable about their financial future, they tend to postpone having children. We saw that in the Great Depression the 1930s and we're seeing that in the Great Recession today,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University. “It could take a few years to turn this around.” The recent U.S. report estimates there were 4,136,000 births in 2009, down from 4,247,000 in 2008, and over 4.3 million in 2007.