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Studies show Ala. birthrate is declining

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The number of women having babies in Alabama is on decline, and the numbers have some concerned about the future of the state's economy. Stats show Alabama mothers are having fewer than two children each.

"When you get to less than 2.1 children per woman, it means you cannot replace yourself," explains Dr. Yanyi Djamba at the Auburn-Montgomery Center for Demographic Research Studies.

He and Dr. Albert Woolbright at the Alabama Department of Public Health study the birth rate each year, and both say there are consequences of women not having children. Fewer people will be around to fill jobs and keep the economy at its current levels.

"We will get to the point where we need people to work to take these jobs or people to help," Dr. Djamba explains.  

"You have a very old population where you have a lot of elderly people and not so many children and not so many people in the working ages," adds Dr. Woolbright.

And there are reasons for it: "Competition to some extent between having a career and beginning family," Dr. Djamba says.

College and climbing the corporate ladder weren't as common years ago. "Women started postponing childbirth and postponing marriage and postponing families," Dr. Woolbright said., Dr. Djamba also mentions another cause; "The cost of children is very high."

Dr. Djamba doesn't expect anything to change in the next 20 years, and only sees the rate declining even more. "You can't force people," he said or adding to the population count.

Dr. Djamba would like to see more births, but only if the parents can provide for the children. He says it's important to remember statistics represent actual children that need proper care.

Alabama, and the United States, aren't alone. The birth rate is even lower in Europe where countries are at a breaking point. Birth rates are declining to the point where there is grave economic concern, and that's one reason adopting children from overseas is often recommended.

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