PHOENIX, AZ – After years of reporting the highest fertility rates in the nation, the birth rate in Utah is now on the way down.

Some experts suggest that declining birth rate may be the result of economic hard times, especially since 2020.

“Starting a family can…be very expensive at this moment in time with the unpredictability of living costs,” according to Bob Goldwater, a spokesperson for the Birth Injury Lawyer Group in Phoenix.


This graphic illustrates the declining birth rates in various regions of the United States, with the Intermountain West and the Pacific region experiencing the sharpest declines with a minus 20.5 percent and a minus 20.2 percent respectively (Image courtesy of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah).

Using data from 2017 to 2021 from the National Center for Health Statistics, the attorneys’ group conducted research on the average birth rates across the United States.

“When adding another human being into the picture, most of your finances will double, such as rent costs, food costs, medical bills and plenty of other financial contributors.”

Some demographers agree that the rate of inflation under the Biden administration may very well be giving young couples pause before having children.

In 2020, the last year of the presidency of Donald Trump, the national inflation rate stood at 1.2 percent. But that rate jumped to 4.7 percent in 2021 and to a staggering 8 percent in 2022, largely due to deficit spending by Congress.

This is by no means the first time that the economy has impacted Utah birth rates. Starting in 2008 – the first year of the Great Recession – fertility rates in Utah began to significantly decline and those declines have continued, according to statistics supplied by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah.

Those declining birth rates were most apparent in the mid-teen, late teen and early 20s age groups. But Utah’s declining fertility rates finally made headlines in 2016 when the Beehive State no longer ranked highest in the country.

As of 2020, Utah’s birth rate of 1.92 births per woman in the 15 to 44 age group was eclipsed by South Dakota (1.98), Nebraska (1.94) and North Dakota (1.93).

A total fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman is generally considered to be a replacement level of fertility, guaranteeing a stable population.

More recent research by the Phoenix lawyers group also placed Utah in fourth place, following South Dakota, North Dakota and Alaska, using data from 2017 to 2021.

The decline in Utah birth rates since 2010 mirrors a decade-long drop in fertility in every region of the United States and Washington, D.C.

But the intermountain West – including Utah – and the Pacific regions experienced the sharpest declines with rates of minus 20.5 percent and minus 20.2 percent respectively.

“There could be a wide variety of factors affecting the drop in fertility rates,” Goldwater explains. “Those include greater access to birth control, lower child mortality rates and improved educational opportunities for women.”

The Gardner Institute at the U of U argues effectively, however, that the declining birth rate is simply the natural result of gradual greying of the population.

“This may indicate a new trend in fertility rates for the state,” a Gardiner fact sheet suggests. “Declining fertility, coupled with an aging population, will impact the types of services needed in the future.

“Resources required for children’s health services, public school and pre-kindergarten program will continue to grow,” the fact sheet adds. “But the highest rates of increases will be for services utilized by seniors as the share of the population 65 years and older doubles to 1 in 5 Utahns”.

As a part of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute prepares economic, demographic and public policy research that helps Utah prosper.

Based in Phoenix, the Birth Injury Lawyers Group is a consortium of attorneys dedicated to helping parents of infant children fight for their rights, including financial compensation for families who have been harmed by a medical professional’s mistake.

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