In November, the Pew Research Center reported that the birthrate in the United States has hit a a record low as a result of the Great Recession. 2011 the lowest birthrate since 1920 and Hispanic women, both U.S.-born and immigrants, showed the largest dip. Though Latinas have had the highest fertility rates in the United States, the New York Times found that they are now experiencing their lowest birth rates in the last 20 years.
The numbers point to the being a partly an effect of the economy. The recession hit Latino families harder than white, Asian, and black households, forcing women to put off having children. Even before the recession, poverty and unemployment rates had gone up dramatically for Latinos. But there’s also the fact that Latinos are moving away from traditional Catholic values and using contraception. A large majority of Latino adults use contraception on a regular basis, far more than their mothers and grandmothers who had large families. And as more and more Latinos are heading to college (in 2010, Hispanics became the largest minority group on college campuses for the first time in history), careers are becoming a priority over having families. And with families spread across continents, some are having fewer children because abuela just isn’t around to help.
Recessions have always led to a dip in the birthrate and researchers have found they the rates always bounce back, but it’s unclear if that will be the case for Latinos as they continue to seek education and upward mobility at record rates.
Word: Desiree Browne, assistant editor