- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas recorded its lowest birth rate in 2013 since the state began keeping birth records in 1912, which reflects a national trend toward fewer births, according to an annual vital statistics report.

The report said there were 13.4 births per 1,000 people, or 38,805 babies, in 2013. That’s a decline of 4.3 percent from 2012, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1stTYZK ).

Kansas State sociology professor Laszlo Kulcsar, a demographer, said people are deciding to have fewer children for a variety of reasons, including the economy.

“The ideas about families have changed a lot, and today people don’t really want to have a gazillion kids for a number of reasons,” he said. “They want to have one or two or maybe not even one.”

Kansas’ low numbers mirror what is happening in most of the country. In 2013, the national birth rate for women under 30 and the general fertility rate were at all-time lows, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kulcsar said the numbers are influenced by aging baby boomers because, with the birth rate based on the number of births for every 1,000 people, there are fewer women of child-bearing age.

The economy also affects birth rates, if only temporarily, he said.

“I think it’s still having an effect. The economy is bouncing back, but having a child is a major decision so people are not just going to do this willy-nilly if they see a new factory going up in town,” Kulcsar said. “It’s much easier to scare people into waiting than provide an economic environment that will make them feel like they’re back to normal and should have a child.”

The vital statistics report also said teen pregnancies in 2013 were the lowest in 20 years and the abortion rate increased slightly to about 97 abortions per 1,000 live births.

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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