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WASHINGTON — Millennial women are having children at a slower pace than any other generation in U.S. history, thanks in part to a struggling economy.
That’s according to a new report out of the Urban Institute, which said the birth rate among American women in their 20s dropped a whopping 15 percent between 2007 and 2012, and doesn’t appear to be picking up.
That time period coincided directly with the Great Recession and its “painfully slow” recovery, study authors noted. Young adults were hit hardest during that time, potentially causing some women to postpone marriage and childbearing.
“Young women who aren’t worried about the biological clock can say, ‘Things are tough right now. Let me put this off because I can,’” study co-author Nan Astone told the Boston Globe.
Across the board, the recession also brought a long-term decline in marriage rates among millennials, the study found.
What does this mean for the future? For starters, the number of babies and young children in the country will drop, if only temporarily.
“If these low birth rates to women in their twenties continue without a commensurate increase in birth rates to older women, the United States might eventually face the type of generational imbalance that currently characterizes Japan and some European countries,” researchers wrote.
However, study authors admitted it’s probably far too early to worry much about that potential outcome. It remains to be seen whether millennial women who put off having children in their 20s will make up for lost time in their 30s and 40s.
Overall, young American women still want kids. A 2013 Gallop poll found just 6 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 40 had no desire to become parents, the Washington Post reported. That same poll found that respondents younger than 30 said the “ideal” number of kids was an average of 2.7, which is more than the U.S. fertility rate of 1.9 children per woman, according to the Post.