Population

U.S. Birth Rate Down Fourth Year in a Row

Weak economy blamed

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NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. births fell for the fourth year in a row, the government reported Wednesday, with experts calling it more proof that the weak economy has continued to dampen enthusiasm for having children.

But there may be a silver lining: The decline in 2011 was just 1 percent — not as sharp a fall-off as the 2 to 3 percent drop seen in other recent years.

"It may be that the effect of the recession is slowly coming to an end," said Carl Haub, a senior demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.