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Despite population differences, North Dakota birth rate higher than Minnesota

Art by Troy Becker

GRAND FORKS—Although Minnesota may have experienced increased population during the past 10 years, North Dakota's birth and fertility rate based on population is still higher, according to statistics from the North Dakota Department of Health

Resident births in North Dakota decreased significantly for the first time in four years in 2017 with 10,738 live births recorded in the state last year. In 2016, there were 11,363 live births, which was the highest number in the past 10 years, according to the health department.

In general, numbers have been trending upward in the past decade. In 2008, there were 8,931 births, which quickly increased to more than 10,000 in 2012 as oil activity in the Bakken started to heat up.

Births peaked in Minnesota in 2007, with more than 73,000 babies born. They have not returned to that number since. Statistics for Minnesota show a slight decline in total births from 2008 to 2017 with 72,382 births reported in 2008 and then a drop to 68,407 in 2010. The number has continued to fluctuate around 70,000 births since, with 68,603 babies born in 2017, according to data from the Minnesota health department.

According to 2016 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesota's birth rate in 2016 was 12.6 births per 1,000 population, while North Dakota's was a bit higher at 15 births per 1,000. Nationally, the birth rate is 12.2.

North Dakota's fertility rate, which is measured by births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, was also higher at 77.3 versus Minnesota's 66.1. The U.S. fertility rate is 62.0, according to the CDC.

Megan Dayton, with the Minnesota State Demographic Center, said fertility and birth rates allow for better comparison of states over time, rather than looking directly at the whole numbers themselves.

From the mid-1990s to around 2006, the fertility rate in Minnesota was climbing but then started to decline around 2008 during the recession, said Dayton. She added that though births are staying around 70,000, Minnesota's population is approaching 6 million, and fertility and birth rates continue to decline.

"If it gets too far below replacement, that's where it gets kind of scary for what we call natural decrease where deaths could outnumber the births in a given area," she said.

Dayton said that phenomenon has never happened in Minnesota, but projections show that could be a possibility by 2040. Though there are many types of data that go into that projection, one of the easiest things to predict are births and deaths.

Rural areas also experience a higher decline in fertility rates than urban areas because rural populations are often older and less likely to have kids.

North Dakota's overall population has increased during the past 10 years, as well. In 2010, there were 674,518 people living in the state. That number kept going up, reaching its peak in 2016 with 755,548. The numbers decreased slightly in 2017, with 755,393 people in the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Kevin Iverson, with the North Dakota Census Office, said the state saw an inward migration of younger people during the oil boom, including young women between the ages of 20 and 34. He said about 85 percent of children are born to women in that age group. He noted it also is fairly common for people in that age range to migrate to a new place.

Iverson also noted that the general median age for women has gone up slightly over time, which means the number of births may begin to go down slightly. He said, generally, if women have children at a slightly older age, they are more likely to have one or two kids, rather than two or three.

By the numbers

North Dakota births

• 2013—10,591

• 2014—11,352

• 2015—11,265

• 2016—11,364

• 2017—10,738

Minnesota births

• 2013—69,138

• 2014—69,916

• 2015—69,835

• 2016—69,746

• 2017—68,603

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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