Birth rate down because of recession -

Money vs. babies

Just before the recession hit, we were in the middle of a little baby boom! Now, the birth rate is dropping fast.

The number of babies born in the United States peaked with a record 4.3 million births in 2007, but has been dropping ever since, hitting 4 million last year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The birth rate has dropped 10%!

Historically, declines in birth rates have happened at the same time as economic downturns. During the Great Depression, the birth rate dropped 17%. During the slumps in the 1970's and early 1990's, the birth rates fell 18% and 15%.

The cost of raising children just keeps going up. According to the Department of Agriculture, the average middle-class American family will spend an average of $226,000 to raise a child born in 2010 through age 18 - and that doesn't include college!

Analysts says those rising costs - coupled with the rough economy - have caused many women to postpone having children, and caused other families to have fewer kids than originally planned.

One good strategy - as soon as you even think about starting a family, open up a "baby fund". Set as much money aside as you can for those early expenses. And if you don't have a budget, now's the time to write one!

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