With Santa’s big day a mere four days away, La Vida Latina has chosen a moment to reflect on the actual purpose for this celebration, the birth of a child, by looking into Colorado’s birth rates and what they say about where the state has been and where it is going.
“Children are the future,” is a statement that politicians, entertainers, teachers and parents have used almost irreverently for decades to the point of becoming cliché. However, when it comes to foreseeing the ethnical direction of the country it is a better measuring tool than anything Nostradamus (or Walter Mercado) could have imagined.
According to the Pew Research Center the new Census Bureau population estimates show that the current slate of newborns in the United States are missing a class that has been a part of the country’s culture for centuries: minority.
The bureau’s estimates for July 1, 2015 – which were released this year – show that 50.2 percent of U.S. babies younger than 1 year old were racial or ethnic minorities. By the numbers that is 1,995,102 minority babies compared with 1,982,936 non-Hispanic white infants. The bureau also pointed at that the crossing point for these estimates occurred in 2013, which means it is more likely a trend than an anomaly.
“I think we’ve been hearing for several years that there would come a time in the United States where the term “minority” would no longer apply to those of us who have been labeled as minorities since we were born,” said Sandra Acevez, 26, a registered nurse and self-proclaimed activist in Thornton. “Having worked with young mothers for three years now, I can say from personal experience it is very clear that the lines of race and ethnicity are becoming increasingly blurred.”
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the Centennial State is not quite on par with the national trend as 2015 saw 40,726 White, non-Hispanic births compared to 22,056 Hispanic, Black, Asian American and American Indian births.
Another national trend, which has been cemented in Colorado for several years, is that women are waiting much longer to have children.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the number of babies born per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 are at the lowest levels ever recorded. The CDC was quick to point out that this does not mean there are more infertile women, rather that fewer babies are being born to women of likely childbearing age.
“There has been a huge shift in how women live their lives today compared to decades past,” said Allison Richards, a wellness coordinator at Compass Group USA. “More women are working full time jobs and more women are doing that without the assistance of a full-time companion. Large families just aren’t as practical today as they once were.”
She added that women are waiting longer now too, in part because infertility treatment has allowed women to extend the time frame of childbearing.
“In my mother’s day, it was nearly impossible to consider having children after 40,” Richards said. “If you did, you could very well be viewed as an outcast or worse. Now there are women who are able to establish their careers and wait until their 30s or 40s before having that child they’ve longed for, and there is nothing wrong with that.”
In Colorado birth ages have decreased across the board with the exception of the 30-plus age range which, at 48.1 percent, saw the most births in 2015.
While more women are waiting in Colorado, teen pregnancy has plummeted as well. According to the CDPHE, both the birth rate and abortion rate for women ages 15-19 fell 48 percent from 2009 to 2014.
The decline has been attributed to the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, an award-winning program that has been the topic of debate on the state House and Senate floors the last two years as it continues to seek funding.