Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The New US "Mini"Baby Boom

As we enter 2008, some more details on the United States fertility story we have been running since December (see posts here and here).

Firstly a reader sent me this link, which among other things included these interesting details:

An Associated Press review of birth numbers dating to 1909 found the total number of U.S. births was the highest since 1961, near the end of the baby boom....

The report also showed births becoming more common in nearly every age and racial or ethnic group. Birth rates increased for women in their 20s, 30s and early 40s, not just teens. They rose for whites, blacks, Hispanics, American Indians and Alaska Natives. The rate for Asian women stayed about the same.

Total births jumped 3 percent in 2006, the largest single-year increase since 1989, according to the CDC's preliminary data.

Clearly, U.S. birth rates are not what they were in the 1950s and early 1960s, when they were nearly twice as high and large families were much more common. The recent birth numbers are more a result of many women having a couple of kids each, rather than a smaller number of mothers, each bearing several children, Astone said.

Demographers say there has been at least one boomlet before, around 1990, when annual U.S. births broke 4.1 million for two straight years before dropping to about 3.9 million in the mid-1990s. Adolescent childbearing was up at the time, but so were births among other groups, and experts aren't sure what explained that bump.

Secondly a short guest post from occasional DM contributor and Japan Economy Watcher, Scott Peterson.

US Demography As Of 2007

by Scott Peterson

The US Census Bureau recently released its population estimates as of July 1, 2007. The data showing population change between 2006 and 2007 can be found here. The analysis showing components of population change can be found here. Notably, the population increase of just under 2.9 million amounted to only a 1% increase. International migration contributed only a little bit more than 1 million new residents or a measly .3% increase. A change of this magnitude is likely to cause minimal strain on the country's economic or social systems. Specifically, if one assumes a correlation between population growth and GDP growth(not unreasonable given that consumer spending makes up something like 70% of GDP), certainly 1% is nothing to get excited about in terms of GDP growth.

In terms of internal migration, the data shows that the Western region of the country had essentially zero net domestic migration. This is quite remarkable as for the last 30 years the West was attracting large numbers of migrants from the eastern part of the country.

The data distribution of population throughout the US is thought provoking. The government divides the country into four regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. This categorization seems reasonable. The regions rank in population as follows: South-110 million, West-70 million, Midwest-66 million, and Northeast-55 million. So the region which has been the political and industrial leader of the US for most of its history now has the least population. Although there has been much discussion of outmigration from the Northeast and Midwest over the years, the magnitude of the gap in population levels between the traditional power centers and the South and West is now rather eye-popping. We should expect significant changes in US political and economic decision making in the future as a result.


Will Baird said...

So, is this the beginning of a trend upwards? Or just a single year blip? It will be interesting to see which.

Anecdotally, I don't think its a blip, but I am not working with stats here, but what people are doing in my circle of friends, coworkers, etc.

Anonymous said...

Hard to say if it's a blip or not. However, safe to say the US won't slip too far in the future. Haven't been able to find any actual data, but it would seem evangelicals and Mormons exhibit much higher fertility than other groups. Over time, this lifts overall fertility as evangelicals and Mormons account for a larger share of the population.

I believe this partly accounts for population growth in the South, and for the increasing share of the population which identifies as "evangelical". It should be noted that Hispanics increasingly self-identify as "evangelical".

So, the segments of America's population which most resemble Europe's are set to shrink (the "secular" most seen in the Northeast and on the West Coast). Europe, however, has no fast-growing evangelical/Mormon population in place to pick up the slack. That difference explains the divergent TFR's. We may actually see US fertility increase as the evangelical/Mormon share of the population increases over time.

Also, expect the US to become a far more politically and socially conservative country in the future.

Kevin said...

Not sure why Scott Peterson applies so many only's to his note -- those population growth numbers are almost exactly the same as they've been for each of the past 4 years ... as far back as I looked.

Anonymous said...

Evangelicals may be a factor in US population growth, but there is also a change in status associated with having children in the US. In the eighties and early nineties, it was often considered an indication of wealth and education to have a small family or no children at all in order to place career ambitions above all else. Certainly the educated professional class looked down on people who had more than one child.
Now very much the opposite is true. It is an indication of wealth if you can exist on a single income and one partner can stay home with the children. Further, the negative stigma associated with more than a single child is gone, but the limit has merely shifted to two or three, with a hard limit at three: many people seek out sterilization procedures when once they have three children.
In a sense, Americans are becoming more European in what they value by putting less emphasis on working themselves to death, but the new priorities of going back to family life are decidedly un-European. The values taken by the wealthy and educated are often emulated by the middle and lower socio-economic classes, so you have a lot of non-immigrant communities growing and valuing growth at the same time.

Edward Hugh said...

"It is an indication of wealth if you can exist on a single income and one partner can stay home with the children."

Interesting perspective. Thank you. And I note you do say "one partner", which implies that it could be either the mother or the father.

"The values taken by the wealthy and educated are often emulated by the middle and lower socio-economic classes,"

And in this area, definitely.

Anonymous said...

There is a few little indications that a cultural shift is happening also in Europe, as more VIPs have many children (2-3-4).

The problem is the higher population density and the high cost of living couple with an anemic economy.

Anonymous said...

The higher birth rate is a result of latinos (most of whom adhere to the Catholic Church's stance on birth control) having higher birth rates. EOM.