During recession Americans make changes, not babies


The economy is being blamed for a drop in the number of Americans having babies. That's not surprising given a recent government report that said parents could expect to spend $221,000 to raise a child from birth to age 17. This is the first time the number of U.S. births has dropped in 10 years.

Figures from the National Center for Health Statistics indicate that the number of births fell 2% in 2008 to 4,247,000. That compares with the previous year when the birthrate surpassed a record high set 50 years earlier. The number of births fell across the country last year except in 10 states. California saw a 2.6% decline in births and Arizona had a 3% drop.

Early data for 2009 also seem to indicate that many families are putting off having children. That's probably due in large part to the fact that many men who are the primary breadwinners in their families are losing jobs. "More than 80 percent of the job losses in this recession have been borne by men," Stephanie Coontz, a professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., told the New York Times. "There are a lot of families where a maternity leave would mean that no income at all was coming in."