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Birth rate in US hits record low, led by decrease in births to immigrant women (+video)

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This just in from the Pew Research Center:  The  US birth rate – the number of births per 1,000 women – fell last year to a record low, led by a significant decrease in the number of children born to immigrant women.

Based on preliminary data, Pew says, the country’s birth rate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000  women – about half the rate of the Baby Boom years, when, in 1957, say, there were 122.7 babies per 1,000 women. (Only a decent percentage of whom were named Donna, Susan or Linda.) That’s the lowest since at least 1920, when the government began keeping reliable birth rate statistics.

In real numbers, these figures mean that 3.95 million little bundles of joy born last year. (Which really, when you stop to think about it, is sort of overwhelming. One has managed to deconstruct our household.)

Anyhow, while immigrant women still accounted for a disproportionate share of births (17 percent of women ages 14 to 44 in the US are foreign-born, while 23 percent of all births are to foreign-born moms), the birth rate for that population has dipped in recent  years.  Pew found that after a decade and a half of increase, the birth rate for immigrant women dropped 14 percent between 2007 and 2011; the birth rate for Mexican women fell by 23 percent.

Researchers say this drop in immigrant birth rate is the result of behavior change rather than a shift in population composition. And while they didn’t investigate in this study the particular reasons for this apparent behavioral disinclination to procreate, previous Pew reports have tied fertility decline to economic stress.  (Ah, 2007 to 2011. You can connect the dots.) 

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