The nation’s economic downturn is having an impact on the decision to have children, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. Birth rates began to decline in 2008, said the report, which was released Oct. 12.

“What people seem to be doing is not so much deciding not to have children, but postponing until things start to recover,” Gretchen Livingston, senior researcher of the project, told the New York Times.

Birth rates dropped to 64.7 births per thousand women ages 15 to 44, according to preliminary 2010 data, from 69.6 births per thousand women in 2007, the year the recession began.

“States experiencing the largest economic declines in 2007 and 2008 were most likely to experience relatively large fertility declines from 2008 to 2009, the analysis finds. States with relatively minor economic declines were likely to experience relative small declines,” the report said.

There is a link between birth rates in regions hard hit by the recession and places where unemployment is low, according to data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The report shows that North Dakota and Maine, with relatively small rates of unemployment, had a slight increase in the birth rate while 48 states and the District of Columbia all showed a decrease in births. Arizona showed the steepest decline, a 7.9 percent decrease in birth rate after the recession occurred.

“The figures indicated that Hispanics showed the largest decrease in births –a 5.9 percent decline from 2008 to 2009–, followed by African Americans, who delivered 2.4 percent fewer babies and white women, who experienced a 1.6 percent decrease in birth rates.

It also indicated that the rate of births in women over 40 did not show any decrease, mostly, Livingston said, because older women are less likely to delay having children. Birth rates for all other age groups fell, she noted.