In a 2010 study of women without children, Pew Research Center found that accessibility to higher education was a prime factor leading to a 30-year decline in birth rates here and around the world. Now, a 2011 survey details the added impact of The Great Recession that began in 2007 and supposedly is over, but let’s wait and see.
Bloomberg News reporter Steve Matthews shared stats from the National Center for Health Statistics: American women have delivered fewer babies every year since 2008, hitting a 12-year-low in 2011. Mix in reduced immigration, and America is experiencing its smallest population gain since World War II.
Mr. Matthews talked with The NotMom.com for the Bloomberg piece, but we didn’t make the final cut. I wasn’t able to provide the name of a woman postponing pregnancy due to finances. But mostly, I urged him to note that America’s lowered birthrates began in 1976. In my opinion, the Recession merely threw a match onto a wildfire.
Stephanie Coontz, a director at Council on Contemporary Families, told USA Today:
“This is probably a long-term trend that is exacerbated by the recession but also by the general hollowing out of middle-class jobs. There’s a growing sense that college is prohibitively expensive, and yet your kids can’t make it without a college degree,” which leads many women to have just one child.
Bloomberg did include information from forecaster Demographic Intelligence. The reason given for its prediction that the U.S. birth rate will fall to 3.94M this year from 3.96M in 2011, was “a culture of risk aversion among young adults.”
“Risk aversion” because babies cost a lot of money? Makes perfect sense. But, can we also factor in a woman’s “risk aversion” of stalling her career, restructuring her lifestyle or linking herself for life to the wrong partner?
Please know: For individual nations, a lower birth rate is generally not a good thing. An increase in the number of older women without children will strain already perforated safety nets. The younger workers who need to fuel an economy that can take care of older retirees are harder to find.
However, in an effort to understand why the phenomenon is happening in Brazil, for example, National Geographic points out a factor that surely applies in every developed country, whether media acknowledges it or not: female empowerment.
Apparently, Brazil’s women, both educated and professional and the poor and illiterate, have a saying: “A fábrica está fechada.”(The factory is closed.)
May I add: No siempre es acerca del dinero. (It ain’t always about the money.)