“The recession has a lot to do with it,” along with water cutbacks that have hurt some farmers, said Donna Aldrich, clinical director of maternal child services at Madera Community Hospital. “We had a lot of migrant farmworkers, and they’re just not here.”
Deliveries at the hospital have plummeted. Three years ago, nurses helped with 200 births a month — today the average is about 140 births. And it’s dipped to as low as 108 in a month, Aldrich said, “which is incredible for us.”
The birth rate — based on births per 1,000 women — dropped 2.8%. The state had the third-highest birth-rate decline, behind Arizona and Mississippi, according to a Pew Research Center report released earlier this month.
A check of the number of births in the Valley showed similar declines between 2007 and 2008 — a 3% drop in Fresno County, 2.9% in Madera, 2.6% in Kings, 4.9% in Merced. Births in Tulare County remained steady.
Pew researchers said they found an association between deteriorating economic conditions and people’s decision to have children. A nationwide survey in October found 14% of people between ages 18 and 34 — and 8% of those ages 35 to 44 — reported postponing a child because of the recession.
The decision to delay childbearing appeared greater among low-income families. Nine percent of people with incomes of $25,000 or less said they had postponed having a child, compared to 2% with incomes of $75,000 or more, the researchers said.
The number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States is estimated to have decreased 7% from 11.6 million in January 2008 to 10.8 million in January 2009, according to the Department of Homeland Security Office of Immigration Statistics. A 1 million decline between 2007 and 2008 coincided with the nation’s economic downturn, the government said.
But Philip Martin, a professor of agriculture and labor expert at the University of California at Davis, said the impact of immigration on birth rates isn’t yet clear. “Recession, reduced immigration — we really won’t know which is the main factor until another year or so passes,” he said.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Sluggish Valley Economy Creates Baby Bust
Interesting article in the Fresno Bee, Sluggish Valley Economy Creates Baby Bust. (hat tip to KA) Too busy to post commentary, but there is plenty of food for thought here for those interested in the Valley Economy. Some clips...