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Report: Arizona’s birth rate plummets due to economic downturn

Mirroring a national trend, the economic downturn is prompting Arizonans to put off having children, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center.

Arizona, Nevada and California, all of which were hard-hit by the recession, were among the states showing the largest declines in birth rates between 2007 and 2009, the report said.

Out of every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44, there were 80.9 births in Arizona in 2007, the report said, while the state’s birth rate fell to 71.5 in 2009.

The number of births fell as well, from 102,981 in 2007 to 92,816 in 2009, the report said. The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 87,053 births in 2010.

Arizona’s median household income dropped during that period from $35,555 in 2007 to $33,207 in 2009, the report said.

The Pew report said the largest decline in birth rate has been among the Hispanic population, which it said has been hardest-hit by the recession. While the report didn’t offer data for Arizona, it said the national Hispanic birth rate of 93.3 per 1,000 women in 2009 was the lowest since 1999.

Tom Rex, associate director of the Center for Competitiveness and Prosperity Research at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, said that while other factors could have contributed to the decline there traditionally is a drop in the birth rate during recessions.

“It just isn’t a good time to take on an additional expense,” he said.

Rex said the national birth rate during has dropped further during this recession than others because the downturn has been so severe.

Marshall Vest, an economist for the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, said recent numbers have shown an unprecedented decline in Arizona’s birth rate.

“This is far greater than anything we’ve ever experienced, which makes me think it’s something far greater than just postponing a pregnancy,” Vest said.

The Pew report suggested that more women are postponing pregnancies rather than choosing to have fewer children, but Vest said it’s possible that women of child-bearing age are leaving Arizona and other hard-hit states heavily affected by the recession.

Statistics:

Live births in Arizona:
• 2007: 102,981
• 2008: 99,442
• 2009: 92,816

Per-capita income in Arizona:
• 2007: $35,555
• 2008: $34,336
• 2009: $33,207

Source: Pew Research Center

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