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Birthrates drop in California, and experts blame recession

April 7, 2010 |  2:50 pm

Birthrates in California began to drop in 2008, in what experts say is a response to the recession. The downward trend of California’s birthrate mirrored that of many other states, experts found.

A Pew Research Center analysis released Wednesday found that the number of California babies born in 2008 dropped to 551,000, down from 566,000 babies born in the state in 2007.

This signified a 2.8% dip in the birthrate, the third largest decline of any state other than Arizona and Mississippi. In the same time period, California’s per capita income decreased from $44,880 to $43,641, according to the study.

In the previous year, the state’s housing prices decreased by more than 2%, the largest drop in the country, researchers said. Researchers found that the data is telling of a link between birthrates and the souring economy.

“We wanted to see whether there was some kind of link for the most recent recession,” said D’Vera Cohn, the study’s senior writer. “We looked at the decision to get pregnant and took a look at what is going on in the economy to affect that decision.”

Indeed, Arizona’s birthrate, which saw the largest decline in the country in 2008, reflected its weakened economic picture. The state had a decrease in income between 2006 and 2007, and housing prices that increased only 1.7% in the same time period.

Researchers cited an October 2009 Pew Research Center survey, which found that 14% of Americans ages 18 to 34, and 8% of those ages 35 to 44 say they postponed having a child because of the recession. In the past, birthrates have roughly reflected the nation’s economic booms and busts, Cohn said.

-- My-Thuan Tran

Photo: L.A. Times file