02 June 2018

U.S. fertility at a historic low

As reported by Vox:
American women are having so few babies these days that the fertility rate has hit a historic low, according to stunning provisional data just published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of births in the US dropped by 2 percent between 2016 and 2017, to 60.2 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, continuing a general downturn that started with the Great Recession of 2008. It’s the lowest the fertility rate has been in 30 years...

“To put this in perspective, the [total fertility rate] hovered above 3.0 in the early 20th century, declined to replacement levels of about 2.1 in the 1940s; reached a peak of 3.7 in the post-World War II baby boom; and then declined rapidly to relatively stable low levels in the 1970s,” researchers from Columbia University, the University of Illinois, and other universities wrote in a commentary about the new data in the Hill...
The teen birthrate has dropped by over 50% in the past decade:

There are various reasons for this, as Vox’s Sarah Kliff has explained, but one major one is we have better access to birth control. Women these days are just as likely to be sexually active as they were in the past, Kliff reported, but how they use contraceptives has changed: ..

 “It’s not ‘the sky is falling’ — but our country needs to adjust to the reduction in the fertility rate,” said John Rowe of Columbia. To do that, he laid out a few potential approaches. “One is keeping older people in the workforce longer. The second is technology — relying on animation, robots and [artificial intelligence] to boost productivity in the absence of workers. A third is increasing immigration. The [final] is boosting the fertility rate,” he summed up. Keeping older folks in the workforce is probably among the most attractive solutions, Rowe argued, since it keeps people’s minds and bodies engaged and the Social Security trust fund replenished. “But we need to start the processes now,” he added, “because the downturn in the fertility has been going on for several years. And it’s going to take two decades or so to get the policies in place and change employers attitudes.”
More data and commentary at the link.


  1. Is that quote accurate? "... relying on animation..." That doesn't appear to be the right word. Maybe it ought to have been automation.

  2. Part of the issue is how unbelievably expensive day care is. Ramp up to QUALITY daycare and it's essentially a college tuition every year. My son and daughter-in-law both have excellent, high-level jobs and even they are quailing at the idea of how they're going to manage if they have another child and have to cough up TWO college tuitions a year until one or both reach kindergarten.

  3. Keep older people in the workforce longer... ha! I've been looking for a job, and believe me, no one wants to hire a 59-year-old woman without a professional certification or family connections. Meanwhile, I won't be eligible for Social Security until I'm almost 67.

    Younger women working on a career know that having a baby will put them years behind their male peers whether they drop out of the workforce temporarily or not. Lack of support for parents in the US (compared to other nations) makes motherhood way more hassle than many young women can handle. They have school loans to pay off!

  4. The last cohort of baby boomer women have crossed the threshold of menopause.

    Decline in 15-19 year old women having babies is probably a good thing as the prospects for very young mothers and their children are diminished in comparison to older mothers.

  5. If poverty among the elderly results from a decline in population, then we've done a very poor job of distributing our abundant wealth. Population decreases should be welcome, worldwide. And ramping down consumption is the other side of that coin. All else is an environmental disaster. Which we will likely not escape, regardless.

  6. I can't afford to have a child, lol! I already work 1 and 1/2 jobs to make rent and have a husband who works and a roommate. A lot of my female friends are in the same boat or just absolutely do not want children.

  7. Having children is economically incredibly expensive and offers no rewards except for the love of children. While having children might be emotionally fulfilling, without any social support system for children having them is burdensome to the point of being a disincentive.


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