Millennial women are the slowest to have babies of any generation in U.S. history

WASHINGTON — Millennial women are the slowest to have kids of any generation in U.S. history. But don’t blame increasingly popular fertility innovations like egg freezing. Career ambitions appear to play a lesser role in delaying parenthood than a sputtering economy, according to a new study from the Urban Institute.

Between 2007 and 2012 — just before and right after the recession — birth rates among American women in their 20s declined by 15 percent, the report found. Financial hardship “causes young women who aren’t worried about the biological clock to say, ‘Things are tough right now. Let me put this off because I can,’ ” said co-author Nan Astone, senior fellow at the Urban Institute.

Birth rates in the U.S. remained fairly stable from the ’80s to the early aughts, she said, but began to dip by 2008 — especially among women entering their prime childbearing years. By 2012, millennials reproduced at a pace that would lead to 948 births per 1,000 women — “by far the slowest pace of any generation,” the report said.

All races experienced a birth decline. Hispanics saw the largest: From 2007 or 2012, the rate dropped 26 percent (1,570 to 1,158). The rate for African-American women fell 14 percent in the same five year period (1,216 to 1,046) and 11 percent for white women (976 to 866).

The recession hit young adults particularly hard. College students graduated into a tougher job market. Many opted to live with their parents as rent prices increased across the country.

So, it’s not surprising millennials put baby dreams on hold. There’s precedent: “Previous historical low points for 20-something fertility rates occurred in the early 1930s and late 1970s,” the Urban Institute paper noted, “and coincided with other times of economic stress.”

Marriage rates, meanwhile, have also dropped across racial groups. More than a quarter of never-married Americans, 25 to 34, report they haven’t gotten married because they’re not “financially prepared,” a recent Pew survey found.

For some, no ring means no babies. The lack of marital commitment drove a disproportionate fertility dip among young white woman, the researchers found.

It’s too early to tell if millennials will have fewer children than generations past. Women born between 1980 and 2000 might catch up on childbearing in their 30s, Astone said.

One thing to watch, though, is how current birth trends may affect income inequality down the line. Among baby boomers and Gen Xers, trends in marriage and childbearing seemed to deepen differences between low and higher-income families.

“Family inequality increased as single parenthood increased among already disadvantaged groups … while more advantaged young adults postponed both childbearing and marriage,” researchers wrote. “Millennial fertility might be a continuation of the trend in family divergence, or it might start a return to earlier patterns of family formation.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

Craig Hess (Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office)
Sultan’s new police chief has 22 years in law enforcement

Craig Hess was sworn in Sep. 14. The Long Island-born cop was a first-responder on 9/11. He also served as Gold Bar police chief.

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Woman killed in crash on Highway 99 in Lynnwood

Police closed off Highway 99 between 188th Street SW and 196th Street SW while they investigated.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Most Read