NEW YORK (AP) – The U.S. birth rate fell 4% last year, the biggest drop in nearly 50 years in a single year, according to a government report released Wednesday.
The rate has dropped for all major races and ethnic mothers and has fallen to its lowest point in almost any age group since federal health officials began tracking it more than a century ago.
Birth rates among younger women have been declining for years as many have postponed motherhood and had smaller families.
The birth rate of women between the ages of 30 and 40 is increasing. But not last year.
“The fact that he has seen a decline in births even among older mothers is quite striking,” said Brady Hamilton, lead author of the new report, the U.S. Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
The CDC report is based on a review of more than 99% of birth certificates issued last year. The results echo the latest analysis from the Associated Press 2020 data from 25 states show that the number of births decreased during the coronavirus outbreak.
The epidemic undoubtedly contributed to last year’s big downturn, experts say. The anxiety about COVID-19 and its impact on the economy probably made many couples think that a good baby was a bad idea then.
But many of the 2020 pregnancies began long before the American epidemic. Researchers at the CDC are working on a follow-up report to better analyze how the downturn developed, Hamilton said.
Other highlights of the CDC report:
– About 3.6 million babies were born in the United States last year, compared to 3.75 million in 2019. When births flourished in 2007, 4.3 million births were registered in the United States.
– In the U.S., the birth rate has dropped to about 56 per 1,000 women of childbearing potential, the lowest on record. The rate is half of what it was in the early sixties.
– The birth rate of children aged 15-19 decreased by 8% from 2019. It has declined almost every year since 1991.
– The birth rate of Asian-American women fell by 8%; 3% for Spanish women; 4% in black and white women; and 6% for mothers who were Native Americans or Alaskan natives.
– The rate of cesarean section increased slightly to about 32%. It has generally been declining since 2009.
– Some good news: The proportion of small and premature babies – with less than 37 weeks of gestation – has fallen slightly to 10% after five years of rising.
The current generation is moving further and further away from having enough children.
The U.S. was once among only a few developed countries whose fertility rates ensured that each generation had enough children to make up for it. About a dozen years ago, the estimated rate was 2.1 children per American woman. But that slipped and dropped to 1.6 last year, the lowest rate on record.
The Department of Health and Science of the Associated Press receives support from the Department of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Institute of Medicine. All content is the sole responsibility of AP.