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U.S. birth rate dropped in 2008

Baby under blanket

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Bill Radke: Americans had fewer babies in 2008 than we did the year before. We just got that news from the CDC, Centers for Disease Control. Now 2008 happened to be the first full year of the recession. So did we shrink our families because of money? To analyze just a bit, Marketplace's Amy Scott joins us live from New York. Good morning, Amy.

Amy Scott: Good morning, Bill.

Radke: Give us a snapshot, what is the U.S. birth rate at right now?

Scott: Well, preliminary data show that about 4.2 million babies were born in 2008. That's a decline of almost 2 percent from the year before. The teen birth rate also fell 2 percent after having risen two years in a row.

Radke: And do we know why?

Scott: We don't know for sure, but population experts are saying that the economy probably played a big role. The Pew Research Center looked at the data and found that some of the states that had the biggest declines in birth rates have been the hardest hit economically, states like Arizona. As you know, having children is expensive, and when people are out of work or worried about the future, they may put off having kids. It's interesting though, women who want to have children obviously can't put it off forever, and really the only group that saw an increase in births was women in their 40s. The birth rate for women aged 40 to 44 increased 4 percent.

Radke: Interesting. now these numbers are for 2008 and the economy has come back a little bit. Do you know anything about '09?

Scott: Well the CDC has looked at the first half of last year, that's about as current as we get, and early data show that births declined about 3 percent. But 2009 will be important to watch, because, you know, there's this nine-month lag when it comes to having babies. So we should see more evidence of how the recession affected family planning.

Radke: OK. Marketplace's Amy Scott. Thanks, Amy.

Scott: You're welcome.

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