Birthrates in U.S. Drops to Lowest Level Ever

In 2016, there were only 62 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. Those numbers were down from 2015 and they represent a record low for birth rates in the United States, according to new data released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

What factors account for this latest trend?

First, women are waiting until they’re much older to have babies. It’s a definite lifestyle choice. Birth rates for women over age 30 are increasing. Amazingly, birth rates have increased in the last year by 4 percent for women over 40, representing the highest rate for this age group in 50 years of U.S. history. Fertility treatment options definitely play a role, as older women now have options they may not have had a decade ago.

On the contrary, birth rates for women under age 30 are the lowest they’ve been. The good news is that the teen birth rate (ages 15-19) has declined by nearly 10 percent in the last year; data indicates that most of these pregnancies are unplanned.

Even though older women are having more babies, they’re not having enough of them to make up for the decline in younger women’s births. Dr. Donna M. Strobino of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says this is a good thing because it means that women are more mature and more educated when they’re becoming mothers.

Millennials are a big factor, too. They’re postponing child birth and some are simply choosing not to have babies at all. Many are citing the current economy as a major factor in the decision to delay becoming parents.

People are also choosing not to get married, resulting in fewer births. Although about 40 percent of all American births last year were to unwed mothers, the total number of births to unmarried couples and people has been on the decline for nearly a decade. Unwed births vary widely by race: about 70 percent of African-Americans births are to unwed mothers, about 50 percent of Hispanic babies are born to unwed mothers, about 30 percent are white and about 12 percent are Asian.

Some demographic experts say that if the decline continues on this same track, the United States could be in turmoil—culturally and economically.

One of the very commonly used demographics around the world is measurement of the birth rate of a country because it is an indicator of the country’s overall health. People look at replacement level; birth rate and death rate have to remain fairly equal so that the population numbers are stable.

Low replacement levels usually indicate that you won’t be able to properly replace your aging workforce, and of course, it means less people to pay taxes, which also keeps the economy stable. France and Japan have both experienced this phenomenon. They’ve put lots of governmental incentives in place to encourage people to have babies. In the last few decades, since 1971, American birth rates have dropped slightly below replacement level.

On the flip side, a country that has an excessive birth rate can strain that country’s ability to provide resources to care for all those new babies. Food, water, shelter and social services can be issues. Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon is India.

Other experts, like demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution, don’t see the birth rate decline as a problem at all. First, they say that the numbers have not dropped too far below replacement level. Second, they say that the U.S. birth rate is still high when compared to other developed countries; two examples are Italy and Germany. Third, Frey says that birth rates are falling in almost every developed country around the globe.

Frey says that despite the drop below replacement level, the U.S. labor force is still growing, which he says is a positive sign. “All these things mean there’s no cause for alarm,” Frey said.

Frey also pointed out that historical data indicates that there is always a drop in birth rates during times of economic uncertainty or downturn, and that birth rates bounce back when the economy does.

Frey also attributes a large influx of immigrants is making up for any losses in citizenry births.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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