From 2008 to 2016 there has been a huge decline in fertility, but the minority baby bust is even bigger.
Not only have we been going through a baby bust, as opposed to a baby boom, but we have specifically been suffering a minority baby bust since 2007.
I suspect that the economic crash was the most important cause at the time it happened. Other trends had been gathering momentum but that one induced an immediate change in behavior.
This is a great country and it could easily accommodate 4.1 to 4.6 million babies from all races. In fact, the lack of people is going to produce a much more serious economic crisis.
The Institute for Family Studies reports, “Baby Bust: Fertility is Declining the Most Among Minority Women.”
If we take age-specific birth rates from the peak-fertility year of 2007 and apply them to each age cohort in 2008-2016, the most recent complete data, we can create a counterfactual scenario of how many babies would have been born if age-adjusted fertility rates had not fallen after 2007. From 2008 to 2016, the deficit turns out to be between 4.1 and 4.6 million missing babies: basically, an entire year’s worth or more of childbearing vanished.
The deficit varies across racial and ethnic groups. American Indians and Alaska Natives have it worst among racial groups, having lost a whopping 15% of expected fertility from 2008 to 2016, or about 83,000 births, with total fertility rates falling from 1.62 births per woman to a shockingly low 1.23. It’s unclear exactly why Native American fertility has fallen so quickly and why it is so low, but they are indisputably the hardest-hit race in the fertility declines of the last 10 years.
Then come African Americans, who are missing 9.6% of expected births, or about 700,000 births, which is only slightly more severe than whites, who are missing 9.3%, or about 3.2 million births. Black fertility declined from 2.15 births per woman to 1.89, while white fertility fell from 2.14 to 1.82. Asians experienced a less severe decline, but their fertility was somewhat lower to start with.
But the “white” fertility figure is a bit misleading, as it includes most Hispanics, who have historically had much higher birth rates than non-Hispanic whites. Looking at all Hispanics together, these women are missing nearly 19% of the babies that would have been born from 2008-2016, or about 2.2 million births, as their age-adjusted fertility rates have fallen from 2.85 births per woman to just 2.1, and continue to decline. Meanwhile, non-Hispanic fertility has only declined from 1.95 births per woman to 1.72, yielding about 2.3 million missing births. Solidly half of the missing kids over the last decade would have been born to Hispanic mothers, despite the fact that Hispanics only make up about a quarter of fertility-age women.
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