California’s birthrate dropped to its lowest level ever in 2016, according to data released by the state’s Department of Finance.
Between July 2015 and July of this year, there were 12.42 births per 1,000 Californians, the agency said this week. The last time the birthrate came close to being that low was during the Great Depression, when it hit 12.6 per 1,000 in 1933.
But, unlike after the Depression, birthrates haven’t bounced back quickly as the economy has picked up.
California has been experiencing a years-long downward trend that likely stems from the recession, a drop in teenage pregnancies and an increase in people attending college and taking longer to graduate, therefore putting off having children, said Walter Schwarm, a demographer at the Department of Finance. When people do complete their schooling, they’re interested in taking some time to pursue their careers or other goals, he said.
“Eventually you think about having a child and by this point in time you’re in your early 30s,” he said. Because that’s also when women’s fertility begins to decrease, they end up having fewer children than if they’d started in their 20s, he said.