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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Economy causing birth rate to decline

As the economy continues to weigh down on the job market and cause insurance losses, it has also led to a decline in childbirths.

A study by the Pew Research Center indicated that in 2007 there were 4,316,233 births in the United States, a record high. In 2009, the number of births dropped to 4,131,018. The Pew Research Center analysis also reported that there was a correlation between households that were hit hard by the economy and the fertility decline.

“When the economy struggles, we see a significant increase in the number of people trying to limit their family size or postpone having another child,” Karen Ford Manza wrote in an email. Ford Manza is the chief executive officer of the Arizona Family Health Partnership.

“I do think that’s kind of been a trend for quite some time,” said Carol Bafaloukos, the associate medical director at Planned Parenthood Arizona. “People are establishing their careers before they’re child-bearing.”

Since the economy is down, more people are going to school, said Niam Hameed, a physiology senior. She said people still wait to have children when they are ready but the economy probably plays a big role in that decision.

Hameed said she thinks students are not seeking another responsibility because they want to finish school first.

“I think they’re here to go to school,” Hameed said. “I think people are becoming more educated now.”

Chris Huey, a marketing senior, said he thinks students aren’t ready to start families in addition to their heavy class loads.
“Students don’t really have enough time to do both,” he said.
In Pima County alone, there were 13,798 births in 2007, which dropped to 12,840 in 2009, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Ford Manza said there is an increased demand for long-term contraception methods during an economic downturn. Based on family size and income, women may receive a sliding scale on their birth control, Bafaloukos said. Planned Parenthood also has a program that allows patients to receive their birth control without an exam.

“We are seeing patients that are just trying to get their birth control no matter how they can get it,” she said.

The Pew Research Center results also showed that the Hispanic population had the greatest decrease in childbirth rates compared to other racial and ethnic groups due to economic hardship. From 2008 to 2009, the birth rate dropped almost 6 percent, according to the data.

Bafaloukos said people can get subsidized family planning. Planned Parenthood has shown a decline in family planning services over the past couple of years.

“Many families just can’t afford to grow now, particularly those men and women who have lost jobs and lost insurance coverage,” Ford Manza wrote. “Longer-acting methods of contraception can be expensive and we’re seeing more and more people in our network who never thought they would end up looking for subsidized care.”

Bafaloukos said she knows Planned Parenthood has a lot of patients who have lost insurance coverage and “they don’t necessarily want to come in for a complete exam if they can’t afford it.”

“Women are just delaying their fertility,” she said. “They’re delaying their first children until they’re a little bit older, until they’re a little more established.”

Bafaloukos added that the economy probably contributes to this.

She said she doesn’t think abortion availability has affected the birth decline, but that the lack of availability has probably caused abortion numbers to drop. According to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services, there were 10,721 abortions performed in Arizona in 2007, and in 2009, there were 10,271. Bafaloukos said she hopes more women are using birth control and emergency contraception.

“We hope the fact that emergency contraception went over-the-counter has decreased the unplanned pregnancies,” she added.

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