Utah birth rate drops for 4th year in a row

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has had one of the nation's highest birth rates for quite a while, but over the last four years couples have chosen to have fewer children. One big reason for that: money, and the lack thereof.

Most any parent will tell you having a child is their greatest blessing ⁸ the more than 51,000 infants born in Utah this past year are living proof of that. But the number of Utah births is decreasing.

We have seen a decline since 2006, 2007 ... Those years we had about 60,000 babies born in the state.

–Janice Houston, Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics

"We have seen a decline since 2006, 2007 — those were our biggest years. Those years we had about 60,000 babies born in the state," said Janice Houston, director of the Utah Office of Vital Records and Statistics.

With the release of the 2011 report on Utah's vital statistics, the state has seen the first four consecutive-year decline since the 1980s. Houston said that's because the birth rate is tied to the down economy.

Some of KSL TV's Facebook viewers can relate.

"We decided it would be too hard on us to have another child, financially," Garrett McDermont wrote.

Number of Utah births, 2008-2011
  • 2008: 55,605 births
  • 2009: 53,849 births
  • 2010: 52,164 births
  • 2011: 51,144 births
(Source: Utah's Vital Statistics 2011 report)

On average, it costs about $13,000 a year to raise a child. If you're thinking of expanding your family, the Financial Planning Association advises you start saving, review employer benefits, and get your newborn's Social Security number as soon as possible — with that, you'll be entitled to several tax benefits.

Still, Houston said this decline isn't just money-related; it's also by choice.

"People are more conscience about environmental factors, about stress on local resources and stress on large families," she said.

The birth rate is expected to pick back up as the economy improves. But even with this most recent decrease, Utah still has one of the highest birth rates in the United States.

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Devon Dolan


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