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Baby Bump
America's Got Babies

There were about 4,700 more babies born in 2013 than in the previous year, according to a Center for Disease Control report released yesterday. This uptick was the first such increase we’ve seen since 2007, says the WaPo. The lead CDC researcher on the report called the rise “’very, very, very slight,'” but people are celebrating nonetheless—and debating the cause. Some link the increase to the gradual economic recovery, others to shifting social patterns:

Falling deliveries was a relatively new phenomenon in this country. Births were on the rise since the late 1990s and hit an all-time high of more than 4.3 million in 2007. Then came the drop attributed to the nation’s flagging economy. […]

The nation also may be seeing a more pronounced shift to having children a bit later in life, said Rob Stephenson, an Emory University demographer focused on reproductive health. That follows a trend western Europe experienced more than a decade ago, he said.

“Maybe the new norm is having children in your 30s,” he said.

Surprisingly, the slight rise wasn’t driven by immigration. Births for Hispanic women stayed the same (and births for Asian women dropped). Only white and black women had a greater number of births. This could mean America may have more native fertility resilience than many expected, but the increase is too slight to be the basis of any definite conclusions. And it’s not all good news. The birth rate and the total fertility rate still dropped, if slightly:

[…] The birth rate dropped less than 1 percent, to just under 63 births per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. That’s the lowest it’s ever been, according to U.S. health records.

[…] The total fertility rate also fell, by 1 percent. That statistic tells how many children a woman can be expected to have if current birth rates continue. The figure was 1.87 children last year. Experts say 2.1 is a goal if you want to keep the population at its current size.

The “baby recession” may be ending, but clearly there’s still work to be done.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Baby recession ending? “The birth rate and the total fertility rate still dropped, . . . .”. Birth rates have been declining since 1910 (

    • gabrielsyme

      To be fair, a levelling off of the birth rate does indicate an improved trend, so perhaps the “baby recession” is close to ending. What is also interesting is the wide division of birth rates between different areas of the USA – in general more conservative, religious areas have more children than liberal and progressive areas.

      Perhaps the real issue is whether “progressive” America is free-riding on the demographic strength (and the financial sacrifices associated therewith) of religious America.

      • Andrew Allison

        One swallow does not a summer make. The birth rate has plateaued before (, but the long-term trend is clearly down. Given the jobless recovery we’ve been “enjoying” since the Great Recession, I see little cause for optimism.
        The differences in birth rates to which you allude may well be related to economic well-being (which may, in turn, be related to conservatism), suggesting that “progressive” is far from it.

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