The number of babies born to Hispanics dropped below 1 million in 2010, a nearly 11% drop since 2007 that reflects the tough times.
Hispanic birthrates tumbled 17.6% in three years — from 97.4 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 to 80.3 last year, according to preliminary 2010 data released this month by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Non-Hispanic whites still deliver most U.S. births. Their birthrates fell too, but at a much slower pace — down 3.7% to 58.7 per 1,000 women in 2010.
The dramatic decline in births to Hispanics, who still have the highest fertility rates, raises the specter of a long-term drop in the nation’s overall fertility — now higher than that of most other developed nations. It also crystallizes the impact of the economic downturn on Hispanics.
“It’s hard to ignore that Hispanics have been one of the hardest-hit groups,” says Gretchen Livingston, senior researcher at the Pew Research Center and author of a recent report on declining birthrates in a down economy.
No one knows whether the trend will last.
A lower birth rate may have a significant impact on areas that would be losing population except for Hispanic growth. In 9% of the nation’s 3,141 counties, mostly rural areas, the population would have declined if Hispanics had not moved in and had babies, Johnson says.
Births to Hispanics in Texas fell 7.5% since 2007 — a drop so significant that Hispanic births went from being the majority (50.2%) to less than half (48.9%), Johnson’s analysis shows.
In Florida, Hispanic births dropped 15.9% and in California, they were down 7.3%.
Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies which favors controlled immigration, says lower birthrates could benefit some poor families. “Given the very high rates of poverty among Hispanic children, small families might make it easier for parents to provide for their children,” he says.