A new report published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) reports that “a falling conception rate in the U.S. has consistently preceded the economic downturns of the last three decades,” according to a recent CNBC article.
The NBER used high-frequency data from birth certificates to examine fertility trends across the 109 million births in the U.S. between 1989 and 2016, “tracking their changes in relation to business cycles,” the article reports. The study concluded that fertility rates can predict recessions “just as well—if not earlier and better than—conventional market indicators like equity prices and consumer confidence levels.”
Although the study—which only focused on U.S. data– is not the first to find that fertility is a “forward-looking decision”, it is the first to show fertility rates as indicators of future economic downturn, “often before markets and economists themselves predicted the contractions.” While in the past, it says, there have been many “debunked” attempts to correlate consumer trends with economic health, the expertise of this study’s authors lends credence to the findings. The conclusion: “…this just might be something economists and investors could gain from paying attention to in the future.”