Nov 2, 2023 - News

Birth rates drop in California, San Diego over the last decade

Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

California's birth rate declined dramatically between 2007 and 2022, along with the number of babies born each year in San Diego.

Driving the news: The state's birth rate dropped 31% from approximately 15.6 births per 1,000 people in 2007 to 10.7 in 2022, Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report based on new CDC data.

  • With a steady decline, California fell below the national average in 2018 and has remained there.

Zoom in: About 44,321 babies were born each year on average in San Diego County between 1990-2022, per county data.

Why it matters: Birth rates tend to fall as incomes rise, meaning lower birth rates can be a reflection of greater prosperity at both the national and individual levels.

  • Yes, but: The opposite can also be true, as people who feel they can't afford children choose not to have them.

Plus, lower birth rates can be an indication of better access to contraception, family planning and abortion care.

  • Rates also tend to be lower in societies with higher rates of women in the workforce — though that relationship is increasingly complicated (it doesn't hold up as well in places with stronger parental leave laws, for example).

The big picture: The nationwide birth rate declined significantly between 2007 and 2022, dropping from 14.3 births per 1,000 people to 11.1, or nearly 23%.

  • It fell notably in parts of the West and Southwest, including Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

Between the lines: A report earlier this year indicated California's birth rate is at its lowest level in roughly 100 years.

The intrigue: Across the country, birth rates and the total number of births leveled off during the COVID-19 pandemic then increased slightly in 2022.

  • But that uptick may be a "short-term deviation from an ongoing trend of considerably greater importance," as a Brookings Institution report put it.
Change in birth rates, 2007 to 2022
Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

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