Lansing, Mich. (WLNS)– According to data from the Michigan Department of Community Health, birth rates in Michigan are the lowest they’ve been since 1941.
In 2018, there were 110,093 live births in the state. The last time numbers were below that was in 1941, with a total of 107,458 births.
“I think there’s a number of factors to consider. There’s this generational piece, there’s this technology piece and there’s also education,” Claire Vallotton, Michigan State University Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies said.
While there hasn’t been a drastic change in birth rates for older women, the rate of teen births has dropped by almost half.
“We see them socializing more on social media and less in person and with that, we see that they’re engaging in less partying, less drinking, and drugs and less early sex,” Vallotton said.
Many women are also holding off on having kids to focus on their education and careers.
“There’s changes in our generations. People are getting more education these days than their parents did. Especially women. There’s a higher percentage of women in college these days than men. With opportunities opening up and society being more accepting and encouraging of women to pursue you know gainful employment and meaningful work in addition to parenthood you know, then we do it,” Vallotton said.
Perhaps the biggest factor though is cost.
“Parenting is so expensive. Childcare– high-quality childcare costs about 15,000 dollars a year. Parents can’t afford to pay any more than they’re already paying so I know people who are delaying childbearing specifically because they can’t afford to put their child in high-quality childcare,” Vallotton said.
Which brings light to another issue.
“We are really not supporting parents and not supporting the childcare workforce to actually enable us to have children and treat them the way they need to be treated for their first 5 years of life which is when they’re learning the most,” Vallotton said.
She added there’s a strong possibility that these low numbers could also be impacted by maternal and infant mortality rates.
“We have huge disparities in poverty, in education, in the support we provide to families in this state. I think stress is one of the biggest determinants of maternal mortality and infant mortality,” Vallotton said.
And until these issues are addressed, Vallotton doesn’t see these numbers changing anytime soon.