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Iowa Births on the Decline

The number of babies being born to Iowans is on the decline.

Recent statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health show there were more than 38,686 births in 2012. Compare that to more than 40,835 in 2007.

“I'm not too surprised that the fertility rate hasn't come up yet,” said UI economics professor Alice Schoonbroodt.

Schoonbroodt says it's no shock, because of the way the economy has been since 2007.

“If you're unsure about the security of your job, then you may hold off and wait and have children after the crisis.”

It's not the only factor. Combine that with the fact that many women nowadays are putting aside pursuit of a family for the pursuit of knowledge.

“Higher education levels tend to be associated with later and fewer births,” Schoonbroodt said.

With both those factors in play, it makes it difficult to see the long-term implications.

“It's hard to disentangle whether it's this temporary effect of this transition to a new long-term state of affairs,” Schoonbroodt said.

Parents we spoke to say the economic downturn a few years ago wasn't a major consideration when they originally had their kids. Years later, that factor is making things a bit more difficult.

Mother of 3 Caren Tracy had her children in the midst of the crisis.

“It's expensive these days to provide the things people expect to provide their kids,” Tracy said.

Mother of 2 Melissa says she would have taken a different approach given the economy.

“I love my girls, but I would have done things differently, maybe more education,” Melissa said.

Schoobroodt took her own analysis to heart, giving birth to a baby girl just a few weeks ago.

After living through the economic downturn in Europe, she waited until she landed a secure job at the University of Iowa.

“I was taking a risk, but raising a kid in England was out of the question,” Schoonbroodt said.

Schoonbroodt says she expects birth rates to climb back up again. However, with technology allowing women to have children at older ages, you may eventually see even more women decide to put off pregnancy even longer.

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