Fewer babies: Texas birthrate falling faster than the national average

Local News

FILE – This Feb. 16, 2017 file photo shows newborn babies in the nursery of a postpartum recovery center in upstate New York. U.S. birth rates dropped for the fifth year in a row in 2019, producing the smallest number of babies in 35 years, according to numbers which were released Wednesday, May 20, 2020, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The number of babies being born in Texas continued to fall significantly faster than the national average.

From 2007-2019, the birth rate dropped from 79 to 62 babies born per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

During that same time frame, the birth rate nationally dropped from 69 to 58.

Courtesy: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Pia Orrenious, a vice president with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said she was surprised to see the rapid drop in Texas.

“The reason for it appears to be primarily that Hispanic women are having far fewer births than they did 15 years ago,” said Orrenious. “Because we have such a large Hispanic population, that affects us much more. About 42% of childbearing women in Texas versus about 20% in the nation.”

To be clear, Texas women are still having more babies than women in other states. Nationwide, Texas ranked 14th, higher than other high population states including California, New York, and Florida.

Courtesy: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

As for the reasons behind the drop, Orrenious said there are both positive and negative factors.

“Good things happening to women like higher education levels and higher wages, those things reduce the birth rate because women spend more time schooling, working, and so they really leave a smaller window in their life for raising children,” Orrenious said. “Then on the negative side things like recessions have a big impact on the birth rate, so in bad times when the unemployment rate rises, birth rates will fall.”

Despite the current economic boom in Texas, Orrenious warns a declining birth rate can lead to economic trouble in the future.

She said not only are there fewer people available to work but there are also fewer innovative ideas because younger people tend to have more of an entrepreneurial spirit.

In recent years, the mass migration both domestically and internationally to Texas has helped offset the falling birthrate.

“Migration can reverse itself very quickly, it can stop, it can reverse itself,” Orrenious said. “It’s not something that we can sort of. It’s not guaranteed to continue into the future.”

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