Arizona birth rate experiences sharp decline

Posted at 4:22 AM, Jul 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-18 08:46:42-04

Arizona once had the highest fertility rates in the entire nation. But, now our state is stirring discussion among experts after seeing the steepest decline in birth rates.

A CNN Money article compiled data that showed in 2007, there were more than 100,000 births. But, in 2017, there were just over 80,000 births -- that is a 20 percent decline.

So, why is this happening?

The biggest blame is on the recession around 2008. Many people felt less confident in having kids when the economy was suffering so substantially. 

There was also a push for improved sexual health education, including the ability for people to get birth control. This coincides with a decrease in teen pregnancies. 

Some experts believe this dramatic drop is concerning, especially in the longer term. 

Businesses could have a more difficult time finding workers, decreasing growth and development.

The construction industry, for example, is one of those struggling workforces. That could also impact the real estate market.  

"Clearly it is contributing to somewhat lesser growth," said Tom Rex, an economic expert at Arizona State University. "I mean, the state is growing less rapidly here over the last several years then what it has historically."

Rex also spelled out how he believes immigration has made Arizona see that huge drop in fertility rates, compared to other states. 

He said bills like SB 1070, a landmark immigration bill signed back in 2010, had an impact. But, more so, the Legal Arizona Workers Act that went into effect during the recession that required verification of an employee's immigration status. 

"What that did is it basically drove out of the state, a very large number of undocumented immigrants," Rex explained. "We were the only state at the time that had that kind of enforcement. So, you saw a real drop in births in Hispanics. "

There are positives to the birth rate decline that experts described, such as smaller class sizes, paying less into the welfare system and less unplanned pregnancies among teenagers.