The LA Times has an interesting story today about the slumping economy’s likely effect on the birthrate:
As the financial crisis reverberates through Wall Street, Washington and beyond, it is taking a personal toll on couples who are making the painful decision to postpone starting — or growing — their families. Once hopeful about their ability to provide for children, prospective parents are now filled with gnawing doubts as jobs vanish, retirement savings dwindle and housing prices fall — even as the cost of having and raising a child rises.
Reporter Jessica Guynn details several California families’ situations and their thoughts on waiting to have more kids (or have kids at all) until the economy improves. She includes this story from San Diego County:
Melanie and Phil Sheridan, both 35, were high school sweethearts who recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. They have a 6-year-old son, Tyler, and Melanie has yearned for a second child for some time. The Sheridans took a step in that direction in March 2007, when they bought a three-bedroom house in Carlsbad, Calif.
But eight months later, Melanie was laid off from her job as a marketing assistant for a home builder. The economic outlook is gloomy and their household budget is strained, relying on a single income from Phil’s job as a project planner with San Diego Gas & Electric Co. So they have decided to hold off on having another child.
“People tell me not to let money stop us from having a baby, that everything works itself out in the end,” Melanie said. “That may be true, but right now having another baby feels more like a strain than the blessing it’s supposed to be.”
I thought this was some interesting context, though the story said demographers aren’t able to tell the effect of this economic downturn on the birthrate yet:
Baby booms and busts are reliable, if lagging, economic indicators, intertwined with the rise and fall of the nation’s fortunes. For three-quarters of a century, economic downturns have triggered declines in the U.S. fertility rate, which, at about two children per woman, is the highest among rich nations. The fertility rate hit its post-World War II low of 1.7 in 1976, after the oil shortage and a severe recession.