Wisconsin sees decline in birth rate

Posted at 1:02 PM, Sep 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-30 14:02:28-04

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's birth rate has declined in the past decade, and experts say much of the decrease is driven by a significant drop in teen births.

The state had almost 66,500 births last year, down from more than 72,700 births in 2007, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Dr. Deb Ehrenthal, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and population health sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told the Wisconsin State Journal that better access to effective birth control likely contributed to the birth rate decline.

Women are also waiting until they're older to have children, said David Egan-Robertson, a demographer at the university's Applied Population Laboratory.

Ehrenthal said waiting to have children is a positive thing because children do better in more stable settings.

But a decrease in births could cause problems for the workforce and the economy in the future, Egan-Robertson said. A population decline could also challenge programs like Social Security.

"If people are having fewer children, there's going to be a smaller pool entering the labor force 20 to 25 years down the road," Egan-Robertson said.

However, immigration typically offsets slow native population growth in the U.S., he said.

"Countries without active immigration ... are facing stagnant population totals," Egan-Robertson said.

Ehrenthal contends that older parents tend to have more secure lives, which is better for children and could help them be successful.

"The kids born will be more successful ultimately, so we could expect to see a more robust workforce for that reason," she said.