This may come as a surprise, but worldwide, fertility rates and birth rates are dropping. Here in America, the CDC’s most recent report shows that because of decreasing rates in the country, our population could struggle to replace itself.
The agency’s study examined 2017’s total fertility rate (TFR) for each state and found that with the exception of Utah and South Dakota, all states showed a decreased fertility rate in terms of population replacement and sustainability. What does this mean? Women are having less babies.
Let’s put things into perspective for the sake of understanding. The total fertility rate describes the projected number of births per 1,000 women, or the average number of babies a woman has during her lifetime. A 2018 study published in the Lancet found that in the 1950s, women were having an average of 4.7 children but that in 2017, it’s about half of that at 2.4.
Those are global rates, but that report also found that in developed countries in the West, the average was even lower at 1.7. Concern kicks in when the rate hovers below 2.1, which equates to 2,100 births per 1,000 women. The CDC’s latest data shows the average rate to be 1,765, which is 16% less than what population levels need to be for stability.
However, those figures exclude migrants and death rates. It should also be noted that in America, the overall average fertility rate has been on a decline for a few years now. Although there is no one concrete reason for the shift, health officials and experts believe there are several factors involved.
One of the biggest is economic status. Due to the cost of having and raising children, more people are deciding to have either one child or no children at all. The ability to find gainful employment and buy or find housing goes hand-in-hand with that.
Thanks to sex education and other efforts, there has also been a decrease in teen pregnancy rates. Our society is also seeing more women delay having children due to career ambitions, getting married later in life, or family and social obligations.
When this happens, some women may experience fertility challenges or parents decide to keep their families small. And there are women who enjoy having economic freedom and do not want children.
But again, the CDC’s stats seems to be on par with what is happening worldwide. More than half of the world’s developed countries – including those in Asia, Europe, and North America – are at or are approaching below replacement levels for population.
We are cautioned that it will take time – approximately one generation – for these rates to be enough to cause a significant impact on repopulating our ranks. But it still makes experts wonder (and maybe you too) if we will have far more adults and grandparents than we have children.
Are you worried about the “baby bust” and whether we will have enough people to replace our population? How do you feel about lower birth and fertility rates? Do you have a personal preference when it comes to childbearing?