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Economy, immigration among factors of Arizona’s declining birth rate

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

PHOENIX — The declining fertility rate in Arizona has stunned health experts across the country, as the state experienced a 20 percent drop in the number of births between 2007 and 2017.

According to CNN, Arizona went from 103,000 births in 2007 to near 81,000 in 2017 — the largest decline in a 10-year period in the country. Overall, the number of kids an average woman in the United States will have in her lifetime has also declined from 2.12 to 1.76.

Dr. Michael Foley, the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Arizona’s College of Medicine in Phoenix, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday that a number of factors have contributed to the declining fertility rate in the state.

“One of them, I think, is the recession that we experienced. It created a certain amount of economic insecurity,” Foley said. “I think people and families perceived that the resources needed to support having children and families was a little less secure.

“I also think over the last decade there has been improved sex education, the availability of birth control — it’s all led to a decrease in teen pregnancy substantially.”

The Affordable Care Act in 2010 — also referred to as Obamacare — forced insurance companies to cover birth control, while grants were provided to states for teen pregnancy education courses.

But Foley said one other factor related directly to Arizona played a major role in the declining birth rate.

“I think there is more of an immigration enforcement in Arizona that has delayed women of child-bearing age from crossing over from Mexico to Arizona and from having more and more children,” Foley said.

“At the time we had one of the highest birth rates in the country, we had a high population of immigrants.”

The birth rate for Hispanic woman in 2006 was 3 children per woman, according to CNN. That’s much higher than the 2.1 average across the country that same year.

“I think the big swing is related to both the economic changes that happened over that same decade and the increasing scrutiny over immigration and verifying immigration status once they were here,” Foley said.

With the declining population comes speculation of the type of impact it could have on the future.

Especially when taking into consideration the aging Baby Boomer population.

“If we have less children we are going to have less people to support the social security system to help support our Baby Boomer population,” Foley said.

“We are going to have less people contributing to it because of the population falling.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mark Carlson contributed to this report.

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