Posted by: Josh Lehner | March 24, 2021

Oregon Moms (Graph of the Week)

Recently our office has highlighted a few things related to declining birth rates and how Oregon compares nationally. We have also talked a lot about the dual boost to the labor market of returning to in-person schooling with the direct teaching jobs increasing and indirectly as parents are able to return to work in greater numbers.

Today I want to dig a little deeper on birth rates and their impact on family structures in Oregon relative to the U.S. There are no right answers here, as these are all personal choices we make, hopefully in our best interests. Additionally in this post family refers to related individuals and is not about marital status, the nuclear family or the like, even as those are subsets of all families.

Lower birth or fertility rates are likely to materialize in the broader demographic data in a couple of ways. First there will be fewer children overall relative to the size of the entire population. However in terms of parents there could be relatively fewer of them and/or they may have fewer children.

With that in mind let’s take a look at women in Oregon and the U.S. and what share have a kid living at home, aka moms. As the chart shows, Oregon has a slightly lower share of moms at basically every age. Even so, a majority of women in their 30s and 40s are moms with kids living at home. It tapers off at older ages not because there are fewer moms per se but because the children get older and most move out of the household, although not all do for a variety of reasons (health, housing, etc). The focus here is on the subset of adults with young(ish) children at home.

Next we’ll focus on just the prime working-age cohort, or those aged 25 to 54 years old. This is a key demographic economically but also includes the vast majority of moms with kids living at home. This cohort includes most Stay-At-Home moms as well (technically women not in the labor force because they are taking care of family or home.)

The second chart shows that among this cohort, Oregon has about 3% fewer moms compared to the nation as a whole and that among those families, Oregon has about 0.1 fewer children on average.

These are not necessarily large differences by themselves or for each family. However when added up across the entire population they are substantial. Overall Oregon has 10% fewer children than the nation, at least in terms of kids living at home with their mom who is part of the prime working-age cohort. Furthermore if you do the math on that gap, it’s about 60% due to fewer moms as a share of the overall age cohort and 40% due to fewer children per family, in average.

All of that’s quite the mouthful to say, and while we are looking at most families here, it is not entirely inclusive of all. As such, take it less as a specific number comparison and more broadly representative of the difference seen here in Oregon when compared with the nation.

Overall, we’ve now seen that deaths in Oregon outnumber births, how Oregon compares on top line birth rates, how those have declined over time, and that we have relatively fewer moms and slightly smaller family sizes. I have one more post in the works examining birth rates by race and ethnicity as well as those differences are interesting and important for understanding the top line figures as well.

Finally I have a fun fact that’s been left on the cutting room floor multiple times now but it’s important to know: Overall working moms account for about 1 in 5 Oregonians in the labor force.

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