KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Data analysts pulling numbers regarding Tennessee’s birth and fertility rates say the numbers are on the decline and have been for years. There are several factors that could be contributing to the downward trend that has still not recovered since the Great Recession more than a decade ago, according to the Tennessee State Data Center.

The University of Tennessee Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research’s Tennessee State Data Center has been tracking population numbers for years, which include birth and fertility rates within the state. Director Tim Kuhn this week clarified the difference between the two: Birth rates are measured as the number of births per 1,000 people. Fertility rates are measured as the number of birth per 1,000 females of child-bearing age which is usually 15 to 44.

Factors that appear to affect the birth and fertility rate include the number of women of childbearing age, which has decreased; as well as declining fertility among women under the age of 30.

“Birth and fertility rates are certainly on the decline,” Kuhn said. “We usually look at this from the perspective of the longer-term impact on population and don’t attempt to associate causality with that decline. There are a number of factors that could be at play. These include lower rates of teen pregnancy, delayed life decisions and family formation, cohort choice and potentially issues with fertility.”

In 2007, when birth rates were at their recent peak, females age 15 to 44 accounted for 20.6% of Tennessee’s population. By 2019, that number had fallen to 19.5%.

The Tennessee Department of Health also tracks data regarding population numbers and birth statistics. The most recent available numbers are through 2020 and break down the data by demographic groups of race and ethnicity. According to the 2020 numbers, Tennessee’s general fertility rate saw some 78,500-plus live briths.