Birth rates in the United States fell for the fourth straight year, the government reported on Wednesday, and experts say the bad economy may be to blame, making people think twice before having kids.
“Children are very expensive and people may look at the situation and think this is not the best time,” said Brady E. Hamilton, lead author of the report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But, Hamilton said it is “not really a matter of births foregone, but births postponed,” as the study also revealed the birth rate for women 35 and older rose.
Birth rates for women in their early 20s dropped, and Hamilton said younger women are just starting their careers and have the “option of postponing having a child for a few years.”
Fewer than 4 million births were counted in 2011, a one percent drop from the year before, and the lowest number of births since 1998.
The report’s most significant findings show that the birth rate for Hispanic women declined by 6 percent and birth rates for teenagers are at a historic low, dropping by 49 percent since 1991.
There was a one percent decline in the number of births for white women and a 2 percent decline in the birth rate for African-Americans.
The birth rate for single women dropped by 3 percent in 2011, and the birth rate for married women rose by 1 percent.
Cesarean sections, which had been rising since 1996, accounted for about one-third of all deliveries in 2011, Hamilton said.