Is the Drop in Fertility Temporary or Permanent?

IB#18-14

The brief’s key findings are:

  • The U.S. fertility rate has fallen sharply since the Great Recession. The question is whether it’s a lingering effect of the downturn or a more permanent drop.
  • A review of different measures of fertility suggests a mixed picture.
  • But a state-level analysis shows that while fertility typically rises in expansions, in the current expansion it has actually declined more than it did during the recession.
  • Four structural changes suggest the decline may be more permanent:
    • a falling birthrate among Hispanics,
    • a rising share of women with college degrees;
    • a falling birthrate among people who do not belong to a religious organization; and
    • a rise in the female-to-male wage ratio.