Birth Rates Dropped Most in Counties Where Home Values Grew Most
A recent decline in fertility was sharpest in counties where home values rose the most, and the change was smaller—and sometimes even up —where home value growth was weaker. An extra 10 percentage-point rise in home values was associated with an extra 1.5 percentage-point drop in birth rates for 25- to 29-year-old women. Even after accounting for the effect of home price increases, the West and Northeast still had bigger declines in fertility than the South and Midwest. Between 2010 and 2013, the average age of a first-time home buyer was 32.5, and as homes grew more expensive, that average age rose to 35.2 by 2017. Meanwhile, the average age of mothers at birth rose from 27.7 in 2010 to 28.7 in 2016. The economic recovery produced a sharp rise in home prices from 2010 to 2016, and a simultaneous drop in the birth rate. The trends might be related (which is not to say causal), especially for women in their late 20s: Birth rates fell the most in counties where home values grew the most, and birth rates fell less and sometimes even increased in counties with smaller home price increases.