Increased fracking activity in certain parts of the U.S. leads to an increase in birth rates for those areas, The Economist reported Monday.
University of Maryland economists Melissa Kearney and Riley Wilson in a May study found that birth rates increased by six births per 1,000 women for every $1,000 per capita increase in an area’s fracking production.
“The result confirms the hypothesis that better economic prospects lead to higher fertility,” The Economist reported.
One result about the study surprised Kearney and Wilson, however — marriage rates remained constant despite the increased economic prosperity in fracking areas. Based on historical evidence, the economists expected marriage rates to rise, according to The Washington Post.
“There was a different response this time, and it’s sobering,” Kearney told WaPo. “The commitment to childbearing with marriage in the ’70s and ’80s is just no longer there.”
A June report from the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that national birthrates are at a record low for all ages under 30 and slightly below replacement levels for the current U.S. population.
“Yes, it’s below replacement level, but not dramatically so,” the study’s author Brady Hamilton told The New York Times. “We have a high level of influx of immigrants that compensates for it.”