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Vt. Birth Rate Lowest in the U.S. - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. Birth Rate Lowest in the U.S.

Burlington, Vermont - March 19, 2009

The National Center for Health Statistics reports Vermont had 6,513 live births in 2007-- 10.5 births for every 1,000 residents. It's the lowest birth rate in the nation, but not much lower than Maine at 10.7 and New Hampshire at 10.8.

Number one was Utah at 20.8. The national average was 14.3.

"It reflects an overall trend toward lower birth rates in general," explained Dr. Wendy Davis, Vt. Health Commissioner. "It also reflects our Vermont demographics."

Davis says the low birth rate is attributable to several factors like the state's very high percentage of Caucasian women who have very low birth rates, but a very low population of Hispanic women who have the highest birth rates.

Another factor: Vermont women are the best educated in the nation according to the report and they are having fewer children or none at all.

"I would hope that must reflect that people are being thoughtful about family planning and really doing this in a thoughtful manner," Davis said.

Economist Art Woolf said, "If they have careers, if you have more kids, you give up your career, and you give more years of your career if you have kids."

Woolf says a significant percent of well-educated women are forsaking motherhood for greater wealth; part of a declining birth rate trend in America that started 200 years ago.

"And so that's going to be a trend that continues," Woolf said. "You know, how low will it go?"

Woolf says that's the problem because Vermont's birth and fertility rates are now so low that the state's economic future is threatened because there will be too few workers to attract and keep businesses.

"So they'll go to North Carolina, or Boston, or Arizona, or Texas, or someplace where they can find workers to do the job that they want because Vermont firms are competing in national and international markets," Woolf said.

So the birth rate is good news for potential mothers who are acquiring more wealth with careers in the workplace, but the bad news is that that workplace may disappear if they don't have more babies.

The new report does have good news about younger mothers. The teen birth rate continues to decline in Vermont and is one of the lowest in the nation. And Vermont babies are among the healthiest at birth.

Brian Joyce - WCAX News

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