Hispanic women are having fewer babies, a trend that has helped fuel a decline in the overall birth rate in the United States.
While women in general are having fewer babies now than in previous years, foreign and U.S.-born Latinas had larger birth rate declines from 2007 to 2010 than any other group, according to an analysis released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
The U.S. birth rate, which had been rising since 2002, plunged in 2011 to the lowest recorded level after it began to decline in 2007. Births among immigrant women began declining in 2008 when the economy took a downward turn.
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Birth rates among U.S.-born Hispanic women declined by 21 percent from 1990 to 2010 and by 30 percent among foreign-born Hispanic women, compared with a decline of only five percent among U.S.-born white women and eight percent among foreign-born white women.
Among Hispanics, the drop in birth rate may have something to do with economic distress. Median household wealth declined by two-thirds among Latinos between 2005 and 2009, a greater rate than white, black or Asian households. The Latino population has also been plagued by higher than average unemployment, which may deter some Hispanics from having children.
While the overall number of births dropped by 13 percent among immigrants from 2007 to 2010, it only declined by five percent among U.S.-born women, who have generally fared better in the struggling economy, during that time.
The national birth rate in 2011 was about 63 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, the lowest since 1920. It was nearly double that during the Baby Boom years in the 1950s.
Even with the decline, foreign-born mothers continue to give birth to a disproportionate share of the nation's newborns, and they have for more than two decades.
"The 23 percent share of all births to foreign-born mothers in 2010 was higher than the 13 percent immigrant share of the U.S. population, and higher than the 17 percent share of women ages 15-44 who are immigrants," reads the report.
Roughly equal shares of births in 2010 were to teen mothers and those older than 35 among U.S.-born women. Interestingly, about four times as many births among immigrant women are to older mothers, 21 percent in 2010, than teen mothers, five percent in 2010. The highest share of births to mothers in their teens is among U.S.-born Hispanics, however. Foreign-born Asians have the highest share of births to older mothers.