Cries from the baby aisle?

The Lempert Report
January 29, 2013

Record-low birth rates in 2011 follow the nation’s 8% decline between 2007 and 2010

Record-low birth rates in 2011 follow the nation’s 8% decline between 2007 and 2010, and there are immediate sales implications for supermarkets and the makers of baby foods and baby needs. During this period, foreign-born women experienced a 14% drop in birth rates per 1,000 females of childbearing age between 15 and 44. The birth rate among Mexican immigrants fell by 23%, and the rate of U.S. born-women dipped 6%. The Pew Research Center in a recent report outlined how this is all about a recession induced fall in fertility. In case birth rates continue to drop, supermarkets throughout the United States should begin to escalate appeals to the tinier market of households adding babies. Trips are already being squeezed by competing food sellers—and now emerges this challenge of spotting and courting these households. The overall U.S. birth rate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, according to preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics. That’s “the lowest since at least 1920, the earliest year for which there are reliable data,” Pew notes. The peak was the Baby Boom rate of 122.7 in 1957. In 2010, foreign-born women had an 87.8 U.S. birth rate, far higher than the 58.9 rate among U.S.-born women. According to the Pew report, “Despite a recent drop in unauthorized immigration from Mexico, the Pew Research analysis found no decline in the number of foreign-born women of childbearing age,”. Pew attributes the birth-rate drop to behavior prompted by economic distress—Hispanic household wealth fell by a greater percentage between 2005 and 2009 than fell in white, black or Asian households.