Hey, Baby, what’s happening?

When I was in Eastern Market over the Memorial Day weekend, it seemed like there were babies everywhere. But statistics show that fewer Michiganders are having children.  

The State of Michigan has just released 2008 data and the trend of decreasing births that began after 1990 is continuing. 

“Figure 1” shows Michigan’s birth numbers from 1990 to 2008.  Births peaked in 1990 at 153,080, the highest seen since the early 1970s. Between 1990 and 2008, births decreased 21 percent ( 11 percent since 2000).  Such a trend, combined with the continued net out-migration of the population, creates a double whammy for a state that is clamoring to retain its talent and its tax base.

A recent release from the National Center for Health Statistics showed that Michigan had one of the lowest birth rates in the country – only the New England states, Pennsylvania and West Virginia had lower rates.

The decrease in births has been mirrored in Southeast Michigan.  While there is great variation across communities – many of which have seen their birth numbers grow—Wayne County and City of Detroit have trended downward.

Macomb County, which has seen continued in-migration and growth since 1990, experienced the smallest loss among Macomb County, Oakland County, out-Wayne County and Detroit – 7.6 percent since 1990; 6.1 percent since 2000.

Procreators in Oakland County have really been hit hard by the economic downturn.  Oakland County’s births dropped only 4 percent during the 1990’s. But since 2000, it has dropped 14.8 percent.  

Out-Wayne County’s drop has been less severe than that of Oakland County – most likely due to the increasing population of younger residents in growing communities such as Brownstown, Canton, Northville and Plymouth townships.   The drop in out-Wayne County’s births has been 15.4 percent since 1990 and 8.1 percent since 2000.

Figure 2.  Births in the Tri-County Area, 1990 – 2008

The drop in Detroit’s birth rate is largely due to population loss. The first time that Detroit’s births have fallen below the 12,000 mark reached in the early 20th Century was in 2008 (11,774). That was less than half of the 1990 total of 24,129.  The loss since 2000 has been 26 percent.

What does decreasing births mean for the State and the region?  How does it affect school districts, tax revenue, business development, etc.?  We welcome your input.