Why the pandemic isn’t only reason for deaths outpacing births in Arizona

The pandemic increased a record number of people dying, while also dropping the number of...
The pandemic increased a record number of people dying, while also dropping the number of births in the state.(Arizona's Family)
Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 5:47 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — 2021 has brought a change in Arizona. Deaths are now outpacing births. The number of babies being born in the state used to outpace the number of people dying by tens of thousands. The pandemic is a factor, but not the only factor.

Arizona’s Family Investigates went through a decade of data on birth and death rates and found some trends. In 2010, there were 87,053 births compared to 45,871 deaths. Births outpaced death by 41,182. In 2021, Arizona has seen 51,6834 deaths compared to 49,997 births. So far this year, deaths are outpacing births by 1,687.

So what happened? Over the last decade in Arizona, the number of babies born has gone down almost every year (except 2012 and 2014). Arizona is also one of the top 10 fastest-growing states in the country. The population increase correlates with the increasing death rates.

By 2019, the year before the pandemic, the births had fallen to 79,183. Deaths rose to 60,161. Births continued to outpace deaths by 19,022.

Even at the peak of the pandemic in 2020, when deaths increased by more than 15,000 to 75,700, births still outpaced deaths by 1,081. 2021 has brought a first. Deaths at 60,161 are now outpacing births at 51,686.

This is not solely an Arizona issue. A U.S. Census Bureau report released in September found, “the number of U.S. births has been declining every year since 2008 (except 2014).” The report also found the pandemic has influenced birth rates. “On average, there were 763 fewer births each day in December 2020 than in December 2019,” the report said.

It appears the nation may be turning the corner. A recent uptick in births that started in March suggests people who postponed having babies during the pandemic are having them in 2021. A similar increase in births has been seen in Arizona since April. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “The winter decrease in births may have been prompted by couples who consciously chose to delay having children amid the uncertainty of the pandemic. It may also have been influenced by stress or limited physical interaction with a sexual partner.”