Iowa births on track to fall again in 2021

Jason Clayworth
·2 min read

Data: Iowa Department of Public Health; Chart: Axios Visuals

Total births in Iowa were down in 2020 for the sixth consecutive year and are on track to sink lower this year, according to preliminary state data released this month.

Why it matters: Iowa has struggled with a relatively stagnant statewide population growth for years and that could impact our economy.

  • Our labor force participation rate is expected to decline because of demographic shifts, including slow birth rate, according to a 2020 Iowa Workforce Development report.

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The big picture: We’re not alone. There has been a national downward baby trend in the U.S. for at least five years.

  • There were already 348 fewer Iowa births in the first two months of this year as compared to 2020, according to preliminary data.

Driving the news:

  • Less sex: Levels of sexual activity have fallen during the pandemic, according to a study from the Kinsey Institute.

  • Economic factors: Child care, housing costs and not enough family leave contribute to why people have fewer children, according to a New York Times survey.

What they’re saying: People don’t want to start or expand their families during times of insecurity, Amahia Mallea, associate professor of History at Drake, told Axios. She predicts the trend will change as we edge out of the pandemic.

  • "I expect we’ll see a baby boom. Maybe it’s a baby, baby boom but, yeah, I would expect that," Mallea said.

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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