The US birth rate in 2019, was the country’s lowest in 32 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), US births have been on the decline for the past two years. In 2018, there were 3,788,235 births, making it the lowest number since 1986. So what’s behind the decrease? And what does this mean for the country?
Why So Low?
Researchers say there could be several reasons behind the birth rate decline, including changing immigration patterns and shifts in attitude among Millennials about becoming parents. And while birth rates dropped for nearly all age groups of women under 35, it rose for women in their late 30s and early 40s.
“There’s no question people are marrying older, coupling older and women are choosing to have children older,” Paul Irving, Chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging in Santa Monica, California tells Parentology.
With many women having their first child at an older age, the probability of them having another may be lower compared to those who had their first child in their 20s or early 30s.
Irving says financial concerns also play a role with many Millennials delaying settling down and having kids due to factors like college debt.
That’s a feeling echoed by Karen Benjamin Guzzo, who studies families at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. She told the Los Angeles Times the US could do more to encourage Americans to have kids, including offering better parental leave and childcare subsidies.
The Birth Rate & Future Generations
The new birth rate numbers also shed light on the fact that Americans are getting further away from having enough kids to replace themselves.
Statistics show there were 1,728 births per 1,000 women in 2018. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, when that number reaches below 2,100 births per 1,000 women, it indicates the current generation isn’t having enough babies to replace itself.
“We’re going to have to get used to a much older world where older adults represent more of the population,” Irving says.
Experts say if current birth level trends continue in the future, there could also be labor shortages. Irving says other places around the world are already addressing the issue and addressing ageism.
With these two issues in mind, the low birth rate indicates the probability of seeing more and more people working past retirement age out of necessity and choice.
US Birth Rate 2019: Sources
Paul Irving, Chairman of the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging in Santa Monica, California
Centers for Disease Control
National Center for Biotechnology Information
Los Angeles Times