Report: Increase in birth rates being driven by affluent, older women

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — For the first time since the Great Recession, births are trending upwards in 2014, according to the April edition of the U.S. Fertility Forecast from Demographic Intelligence released Wednesday. Driven by improvements in the economic climate, births will rise in 2014 from a fifteen-year low of 3.9 million in 2013. The Total Fertility Rate in the U.S. is also predicted to rise from a 25-year low of 1.9 children per woman in 2013 to 2 in 2014 (it was 2.1 per children per woman in 2007). Births among better-educated and older women are driving the rebound.

“The post-recession birth decline is finally over,” stated Sam Sturgeon,president of Demographic Intelligence. “The birth recovery has begun and — as with so many family trends — we are seeing the birth recovery take hold only among better-educated, more affluent and older women. These women have been most insulated from the fallout of the Great Recession and now are benefiting the most from the recovery and they are having more babies.” 

By contrast, births have fallen markedly among less-educated, younger (including teen) mothers and unmarried women. “Young adults and less-educated adults have been hit particularly hard by the fallout of the Great Recession,” Sturgeon said. “This is why fertility has fallen precipitously among the most vulnerable women in our society. Indeed, one reason that the rate of nonmarital childbearing has fallen since 2007 is that younger and less educated women are having fewer children.”

Drawing on an extensive analysis of demographic, economic, and cultural trends, the new report from DI provides detailed projections of U.S. birth trends in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Among the trends highlighted by DI: 

  • The share of births to women with at least some college education rose from 50% in 2007 to 58% in 2013. In 2014, births to women with at least some college education will rise from their 2013 levels;
  • The share of births to women with a high school degree or less fell from 50% in 2007 to 42% in 2013. In 2014, births to women with a high school degree or less will fall from their 2013 levels;
  • The number and share of births to Hispanic women fell from 2007 to 2013 and has now leveled off at 23% of births. In 2014, births to Hispanic women will be about the same as they were in 2013; and
  • Even though the number of unmarried women of childbearing age has risen since 2007, the share of births to unmarried women has remained constant at 41%. This is because the rate of childbearing among unmarried women has fallen since 2007, and because the rate of childbearing among married women has risen since 2010.

“What we are seeing in fertility is paralleling to a degree what we are seeing in marriage trends in America. Americans with more education, better job opportunities and more resources are marrying in greater numbers and they are also having more children. But family formation is down for less-educated, less-affluent and younger Americans,” Sturgeon said.

Login or Register to post a comment.