Notre Dame study find link between conceptions and economic recessions

Feb 28, 2018


Credit Jennifer Weingart / WVPE

 A study out of the University of Notre Dame has found that conception rates may be an early indicator of an economic recession. Researchers found declines in conceptions lead the last three recessions by about a year.

Previous research supports that people have fewer babies when the economy is bad. This study shows that conceptions are a better predictor of an economic downturn than more traditional indicators like purchases of durable goods.

Kasey Buckles is one of the authors of the study. She said looking at the great recession, most indicators didn’t show up until late 2007.


“But if we look at conceptions, we actually see that conceptions reached the peak in their growth rate at about 2006 and then started a decline that foreshadowed perhaps what was to come.”


Buckles said one way to think of it would be that people put of having children when they don't feel optimistic about the future.

She said they gathered data by backdating conceptions through birth dates.


She said to further the study she would want to use data that could be found in real time, like rates of pregnancy test purchases.

The paper was published in the National Bureau of Economic Research's working paper series. It was co-authored by Notre Dame Researcher Daniel Hungerman and Steven Lugauer of the University of Kentucky.