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Immigrant Women Lead Drop In U.S. Birth Rate

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Aired 11/29/12

The birth rate in the U.S. fell to the lowest rate last year since at least the 1920s. Births to immigrant women showed the biggest decline in recent years.

Pew Hispanic Center

The number of babies born to U.S. women fell to the lowest rate ever recorded, according to a new analysis of federal data by the Pew Hispanic Center.

The birth rate among immigrant women showed the biggest decline in recent years, falling 14 percent between 2007 and 2010, compared to a 6 percent decline in the birth rate among U.S.-born women.

The new analysis from Pew shows a reverse in a previous trend: Since the 1960s, babies born to immigrant women had made up an increasing proportion of U.S. births. In 2010 that proportion declined slightly — to 23 percent of all U.S. births (down from a peak of 25 percent in 2007-2009).

Hans Johnson, a demographer at the Public Policy Institute of California, said the numbers reflect a new reality in immigrants’ home countries.

“This is especially true for immigrants from Latin America, and Mexico, in particular, where birth rates have been falling for some time,” Johnson said. The birth rate in Mexico is currently around the "replacement level," Johnson explained, of 2.1 births per woman over her lifetime.

The decline in births in the U.S. is closely linked to the economic stress felt by many families during the recent recession, according to the Pew Center.

Even though immigrants are having fewer babies, Pew still projects recent immigrants and their descendants will account for more than 80 percent of U.S. population growth by 2050.

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