Given our societal structure, it’s hardly surprising that the deteriorating economy makes people a bit wary about having kids. Children are expensive–the article notes that a child born in 2006 will have cost middle-income parents $260,000 by the time the child is 17. So as the economy deteriorates the cost of raising children becomes worrisome.
I suppose it isn’t really that the demand for children is falling. Rather, if the demand remains constant while the cost increases, fewer people figure they can afford the cost and so, to the extent one has control of reproduction, the birth rate will fall. I would expect that if you looked you would find not only in rising rates of vasectomies, but also declining use of ART and perhaps declining adoption rates. I haven’t seen anything about the latter items yet, but I’ll keep my eyes open.
Note that the idea that children are an expense to be weighed against other expenses is undoubtedly a notion rooted in our particular time and place. In agrarian societies, children are often a valuable source of labor. And consider the recent post about China–if children (specifically sons in that instance) are your source of support in old age, then they might well become more critical as the economy deteriorates. (I wonder if it really works out that way. In the short run, you do have to feed and cloth them.)