Cal­i­for­nia birthrate drops again in 2017

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - BAY AREA - By Steve Ruben­stein Steve Ruben­stein is a San Francisco Chron­i­cle staff writer. Email: sruben stein@sfchron­i­cle.com

The birthrate in Cal­i­for­nia has plunged yet again, to its low­est level in a cen­tury, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est U.S. sta­tis­tics, as young adults con­tinue to post­pone hav­ing or not have fam­i­lies.

Fewer than 12 chil­dren were born per 1,000 Cal­i­for­nia res­i­dents in 2017, ac­cord­ing to pre­lim­i­nary fig­ures re­leased Thurs­day by the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion. With a pop­u­la­tion of 39.5 mil­lion, there were 471,552 ba­bies born in Cal­i­for­nia last year, for a birthrate of 11.9 per 1,000 peo­ple. That’s about half what it was in 1990.

Na­tion­wide, 3.8 mil­lion ba­bies were born in the U.S. in 2017, a de­cline of 2 per­cent from 2016. That was the low­est num­ber in 30 years, the CDC­said.

Birthrates na­tion­wide de­clined for women un­der 40 but rose slightly for women in their early 40s.

Causes of the de­cline, ac­cord­ing to pop­u­la­tion ex­perts, in­cluded young peo­ple de­cid­ing to put off par­ent­hood for fi­nan­cial or per­sonal rea­sons, along with in­creas­ing avail­abil­ity of birth con­trol and the state of the U.S. econ­omy.

Women, said UC Berke­ley de­mog­ra­phy pro­fes­sor Josh Gold­stein, have more con­trol over their de­ci­sions bi­o­log­i­cally but per­haps less con­trol over their de­ci­sions eco­nom­i­cally.

Gold­stein said birthrates fluc­tu­ate as the per­cent­age of women of child­bear­ing years varies within the pop­u­la­tion. He said the lat­est de­cline was “not some­thing to worry about.”

Na­tion­wide, the fer­til­ity rate de­clined 3 per­cent from 2016, to 60.2 births per 1,000 U.S. women ages 15 to 44.

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