Dec. 5, 2012
The annual number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 dropped 8% in theU.S.from 2007 to 2010 to 64 births per 1,000, according to a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan Pew center. TheU.S.birthrate peaked during the baby boom, at 122.7 in 1957.
Immigrant women, both legal and illegal, still have a higher birthrate than the U.S.population as a whole. Yet the rate for foreign-born women dropped 14% between 2007 and 2010, to 87.8 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, compared with a 6% decline for U.S.-born women, to 58.9 births. The birthrate plunged 19% for immigrants of Hispanic origin during that period; among Mexicans, the largest group among Hispanics, the rate plunged 23% (emphasis added).
The article goes on to note that the United States has seen a slowdown in Mexican immigration, and that, though immigrants comprise only 13 percent of the total population, they comprise a relatively large share of total number of children born, because immigrant women are more likely to be of childbearing age.
The authors also note that dips in the American economy are accompanied by dips in the birthrate, and as the economy begins to recover, so does the birthrate. However, if our economy is to sustain itself and grow, and “if a society is to continue, stable fertile marriage is necessary,” as Henry Potrykus and Patrick Fagan note in the Marriage and Religion Research Institute publication Marriage, Contraception and The Future of Western Peoples.
Ross Douthat writes of the drop in the birth rate:
The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.
Such decadence need not be permanent, but neither can it be undone by political willpower alone. It can only be reversed by the slow accumulation of individual choices, which is how all social and cultural recoveries are ultimately made.