That is to say, it’s not that these women are simply having babies later. The recession seems to have dampened their baby-making prospects for their entire lives.
When multiplied across the entire population of 20-to-24-year-old women, this economic baby slump is fairly substantial. There are 9.2 million U.S.-born women in that age group, and the unemployment rate went up by 3.22 percent during the recession. The authors say this will result in “a long-term loss of 420,957 conceptions (and 426,850 live births) among affected cohorts, a 2.4 percent decrease in completed fertility. This long-term effect … is driven largely by women who remain childless.”
In other words, that’s roughly half a million babies who were never born because of the recession—and that’s just to moms who were 20 to 24. (The total figure is surely even higher.) By the time these women turn 40, the rate of childlessness among them will be about 9 percent higher than in past generations.