A Boom in North Dakota Births? (Dec. 2021 Discussion)

There is nothing like a good conference to stimulate the mind and motivate you, even when that conference is online and 7 hours ahead. That issue aside it was great hearing the discussions about “Pandemic babies” and COVID impacts on births. I am not going to get into that discussion yet, but turn the focus back to pre-COVID and fracking effects.

The oil boom in North Dakota was a transformational event. I think very few, if any, dispute that point. The demographic impacts are still unclear though. For example, we know births in the state went up.

The annual number of births increased for about 7 years, and then plateaued, and declined. These changes would seem to be, at some level, consistent with economic fluctuations around oil prices at the time. The situation becomes more interesting when we take a look at the births broken out by age.

Several age categories see increases as we can see in the above graph. Notably women age 15-19 see the births numbers actually decline, as do women aged 20-24. There were sizable increases for the age categories 25-29, 30-34, and 35-39. What I find most interesting is the persistence of the increase for the 30-34 and 35-39 age categories, while the 25-29 category maintains its position as the largest number of births but experiences a significant decline by the end of the time period.

Now there are a few issues remaining to address. The population changed over time and so the births number might be due to that. In the next post I will look at fertility rates over the same time frame.

Data source: United States Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Division of Vital Statistics, Natality public-use data 2007-2020, on CDC WONDER Online Database, October 2021.

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