Call it the Obama birth dearth. While the immigrant-fueled birthrate of the United States had recently been fairly robust, it has now dropped below replacement level. And demographers are unsure as to why. Writes Joseph Lawler at Washington Examiner:
The fertility rate fell to a record low 62.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 2013, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
... [T]he total fertility rate, or TFR, the average number of children a woman would have during her child-bearing years, fell to just 1.86, the lowest rate in 27 years. TFR is considered the best metric of fertility. A TFR of 2.1 represents a stable population, with children replacing parents as they die off.
Demographers expected the fertility rate to fall during recession, as financially strapped families put off childbearing. But what has surprised some demographers is both the depth of the decline and the fact that fertility has continued to drop even over the course of the country's five years of slow but steady recovery. The rate has fallen steadily each year since 2007, when it stood at 2.1 percent.
One factor in the fertility decline demographers did foresee was a falling birth rate among Hispanics in America. While such a trend defies the logic of many who consider immigrant fecundity a given, it’s a pattern observed throughout the developed world: Over time, immigrants tend to assume the lifestyles and birth rates of their host country. As the Daily Mail’s James Nye wrote last year about the United States:
A new study has surprisingly shown up that Hispanic women have the steepest declining birthrates of any group in the United States.
... The new figures have led in part to the total number of American births for 2011 falling to a record low — and around half of what it was during the baby boom years.
... The decline in birthrates was seen to be heaviest among Mexican-American women and those women who had immigrated [sic] from Mexico, falling as much as 25.7 percent.
Many will be even more surprised to learn that this merely mirrors falling fertility in Mexico itself, as that country follows the course of the more than 70 nations with birth rates below replacement level.
But then there’s what the demographers are missing. Many critics would point out that birth rates have recovered every bit as much as the economy has — meaning, not at all. For instance, while the regularly touted unemployment rate is 6.3 percent, this figure does not include those who’ve become so frustrated with the job market that they’ve stopped looking for work. And, quite tellingly, a record number of people today, more than 92 million, are “no longer in the labor force.”
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