By Cindy Trillo
The birth rates in Elk Grove have plummeted in the past 40 years. In 1990 there were on average 21 births per 1,000 residents in the area. This figure has now dropped to 11.9 births per 1,000 residents. What has caused this drop in births? And what will this mean for the women of Elk Grove?
Average age of mothers
One of the reasons that the birth rates are so low is that people are leaving it later to have children. Back in 1980, half of all 26 year old women in the area lived at home with at least one child. Now that figure is down to 27%. In 1980, 80% of 36 year old women had a child, however now that figure stands at 69%. The advances in fertility treatments and IVF are also making it easier for women to have children much later in life.
The use of contraception
The widespread use of contraception is in part responsible for the decline in birthrates in Sacramento. A massive 62% of women that are of childbearing age currently use some form of contraception, and the proportion of men that have ever used condoms has risen from 52 to 93% since the early 1980s. The accessibility of contraceptives in the county has made a difference too – there is free family planning services in Sacramento county. In 2013 a law was passed that meant that birth control could be obtained over the county. Not only has this had a knock on effect on the birth rates, but the abortion rates are lower. The fact is too that people are far more educated about pregnancy and their options.
The theory of screen time
Sociologist, W.Bradford Wilcox of the university of Virginia has a theory about why we are simply not having as many children – we are watching too much television, and having less sex. Talking of the average American couple, he said “It’s Wednesday night, and they start Netflix going, and they keep watching Netflix and they don’t do … anything else.” (Source: The Atlantic) Is there a lesson to be learned from this? Perhaps we need to stop binge watching all those Marvel series.
Elk Grove is growing, but a decline in birth rates could mean the average age of the population rises. What that means for Sacramento, only time can tell.