More Proof Recessions Affect Birth Rate

Several sources have shown that, as the economy tanks, the birth rate also sinks. A new study not only confirms this, but suggests that a substantial number of women will never have a baby due to the pressure of the recession.

birth-rate

An Associated Press story was posted by Breitbart.com under the headline: “Study: Recessions Can Postpone Motherhood Forever.”

A massive new study suggests that for some U.S. women, living through a recession can mean they will never have children.

In fact, the authors project that among women who were in their early 20s in 2008 — early in the so-called “Great Recession” — about 151,000 will forgo having any children as a result, at least by age 40.

Overall, the lingering impact of that recession may ultimately mean some 427,000 fewer children being born over the course of a couple decades, the authors say.

On a societal level these effects are small. The projected number of childless women is a tiny fraction of the 9 million women in that age group, 20-24. The drop-off in births isn’t much for a nation that produces around 4 million babies a year.

But the results still show “a pretty profound effect on some women’s lives,” said study author Janet Currie, a health economist at Princeton University.

Currie and colleague Hannes Schwandt present their analysis in a paper released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Past studies have generally shown women cut back on having babies when unemployment rises. In fact, tough economic conditions including the Great Recession are blamed for a five-year drop in the number of babies born in the U.S., starting in 2007. The idea is that during such times, many couples feel they can’t afford to start or add to a family. The births decline ended with a slight increase last year.

For the new study, researchers used birth records and census data to track the reproductive histories up to age 40 for every woman born in the U.S. from 1961 to 1970. That’s about 18 million people.

To look for an effect from the economy, researchers compared the timing of when babies were conceived to unemployment levels at that time. Only conceptions that led to live births could be tracked.

They looked for evidence that women who defer having children during tough times make up for it later on, ending up with the same number they would have had otherwise.

“We were just trying to measure how much catch-up there was,” Currie said in a telephone interview. When the research showed a shortfall for women who experience those tough times at ages 20 to 24, “we were surprised.”

Of course, this story assumes that economic recessions “just happen.” In most cases, that is not the case. The modern policy of central banks started the inflationary boom bust cycles. Recessions are the price of economic growth that our politicians and economists are willing to pay without any real idea of the damage they are imposing on the people.

These women’s lives are changed forever, all because of a completely unnecessary political institution.