How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A slowdown in births to immigrant moms leads record decline in US birthrate

Birth rates among immigrants to this country - and among all Americans - have slowed, a new Pew Center study reports.
Birth rates among immigrants to this country - and among all Americans - have slowed, a new Pew Center study reports. Jake Johnson/Flickr Creative Commons

A drop in the United States birthrate has plenty to do with a  slowdown in births to immigrant mothers, says a new report from the Pew Research Center. 

While foreign-born mothers in the U.S. still tend to have more children than native-born women, they've borne fewer children since the onset of the Great Recession in 2007, and this has sped up the decline.

The Pew report indicates that the U.S. birth rate dropped last year to a record low: "...the overall birth rate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age. That rate is the lowest since at least 1920, the earliest year for which there are reliable numbers." More details from the report:

The overall U.S. birth rate, which is the annual number of births per 1,000 women in the prime childbearing ages of 15 to 44, declined 8% from 2007 to 2010. The birth rate for U.S.-born women decreased 6% during these years, but the birth rate for foreign-born women plunged 14%—more than it had declined over the entire 1990-2007 period. The birth rate for Mexican immigrant women fell even more, by 23%.

The decline in births to foreign-born mothers reverses an older trend. In 1990, for example, babies born to foreign-born mothers accounted for 16 percent of U.S. births, a proportion that had risen to 25 percent by 2007.

Immigrant moms still tend to have larger families. The report says the 2010 birth rate for foreign-born women was nearly 50 percent higher than that for native-born women, but that's changing. The report doesn't indicate why, but like plenty else, it's likely linked to the economy. The report mentions a previous Pew analysis that concluded "the recent fertility decline is closely linked to economic distress." 

Read the full report here.

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