The Puzzle of Falling US Birth Rates since the Great Recession

That is a new JEP piece by Melissa S. Kearney, Phillip B. Levine, and Luke Pardue.  The piece, while not easily summarized, is interesting throughout.  Here is one bit:

The decline in birth rates has been widespread across the country. Birth rates fell in every state over this period, except for North Dakota. One possible explanation for the increase in North Dakota birth rates is the fracking boom that occurred in this state over those years, which has been shown in other research to increase the birth rate (Kearney and Wilson 2018). But as can be readily seen in the map, there is substantial variation in the extent of the decline across places.

Births fell the most in the South, in the West, and in the Southwestern and Mountain states. However, the set of states that experienced larger declines is varied, also including some Midwestern and New England states, notably Connecticut, Illinois, and Massachusetts. Births fell the most in the Southwestern and Western states. The sizable Hispanic population in much of this region is consistent with the particularly large decline in births among Hispanic women, driven by a decline in births among both native and foreign-born Mexicans. The fact that other states with smaller shares of Hispanic residents (like Georgia and Oregon) also experienced large declines, though, further clarifies the broad-based nature of the decline.

And this:

The percentage of sexually active women who report using long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) increased from 5.5 percent in 2004 to 10.7 in 2017 and could have contributed to declining birth rates. The simple correlation, though, between the percentage point change in LARC usage in a state and the change in birth rates is wrong-signed (that is, positive), albeit close to zero. This suggests that take-up of LARCs has likely not played an important role in explaining the decline in the aggregate birth rate over this period.

Overall it is interesting how many factors do not seem to matter much.


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