This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Latest Baby Bust

The Pew Research Center recently published a report summarizing birth data for the United States, showing that the number of births has declined steadily since the birth boom of 2007. These are the same data that I commented on a couple of months ago, but researchers at Pew have nicely repackaged them. The story is clear--the housing bubble brought a baby boom, and the housing bust and recession has done the opposite for births. NPR interviewed Carl Haub, senior demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, and his comments are very much in line with my own thoughts.  

However, I will say that the graph on the Pew Research Center website related to this story is a little misleading, since the vertical axis is severely truncated. We are looking at a lot of variability around an average of more than 4 million births per year. If the axis went all the down to zero, the graph would seem far less dramatic. Furthermore, if you just chop out the boom years from 2003 through 2007, the 4.01 million births in 2009 simply continues the slow downward trend from 2002, when there were 4.02 million births. The boom brought about the building of more houses than the economy could afford, and we have to hope that it did not bring about the births of more children than were wanted.

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