Hawaii birthrate decrease affecting economy and population

Decreased Hawaii birthrate has larger population and economic implications for the state

HONOLULU -- A decreased birthrate in Hawaii has larger population and economic implications for the state now and in the future, officials said.

Recent data show the number of babies born in Hawaii has been declining for a decade, which follows a national trend, Hawaii Public Radio reported Monday.

Hawaii's current birthrate is 10% lower than in 2008.

The economic effects include reports by at least two Oahu hospitals of decreases in work shifts for maternity ward nurses and a reduction in new nurse hiring.

The decrease in the number of babies could also lead to a drop in the amount of Hawaii workers and taxpayers in the future, officials said.

Two of the factors behind the decline are fewer women of child-bearing age and women who can give birth having fewer children than in previous generations, said Eugene Tian, the state of Hawaii's chief economist.

The lower birthrate has contributed to a decrease in the state's population. The number of people leaving now outpaces new arrivals, which results in a net decrease in population when combined with a falling birthrate and normal aging, officials said.

Stronger economic conditions and cheaper living options on the U.S. mainland are causing people to leave Hawaii, according to the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.

The trend may continue for the next 20 years, Tian said.

Policymakers could face a shrinking tax base of workers as older generations retire and demands for health care increase, with fewer healthy people to pay the costs, Tian said.

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Information from: KHPR-FM, http://hawaiipublicradio.com