US birth rates plummet as women wait to have babies

US birth rates plummet as women wait to have babies

US birth rates plummet as women wait to have babies

American women are having fewer babies, and they are having them later in life, according to government figures released Tuesday. Data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics – the statistical arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – showed a sharp decline in fertility rates in recent years, with most women having an average of 1.3 babies and an increasing percentage giving birth at age 35 or older.

“Over the past decade, we’ve seen a huge shift in when and how women give birth,” Alison Gemmill, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who studies demographics and births, told CBS News. fertility.

According to the report, from 2015 to 2019, 56.7% of women aged 15 to 49 had at least one child. In 2019, the most recent year included, birth rates generally continued to rise for women ages 35 to 39, according to CDC data. Birth rates also rose among women in their 40s from 1985 to 2019, the data shows.

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National Center for Health Statistics


But, Gemmill said, that’s not necessarily a bad trend.

Simply put, most women just wait until they feel ready. According to the report, the reasons for the delay are varied and include pursuing higher education, increased labor force participation, changes in family values, relationship instability and financial considerations. Research has also shown that women who are expecting tend to be in better economic circumstances and in more stable family environments. Nearly half of women who gave birth at age 30 or older had a college education.

“The big question we should be asking is: will women who are expecting be able to have the babies they want?” said Gemmill.

There has also been a continued trend toward Americans having children outside of marriage, according to the report. Almost half (47.2%) of first births from 2015 to 2019 occurred outside marriage, but the number decreased if the mother had received some form of higher education.

Another finding from the report showed that teenage pregnancy has plummeted, with researchers reporting a record birth rate in 2019 for teenage girls aged 15 to 19.

As for men, while the average age of first-time fathers is higher than the average age of mothers for the first time since the CDC began collecting data, Tuesday’s report found that men are expecting also even longer. From 2011 to 2014, the average age of first-time fathers was 25.5. Over the next five years, it rose to 26.4.

But falling birth rates have raised concerns about the negative consequences for the tax base and workers in a aging american society.

“We need a stable, long-term workforce to sustain our economy,” said Dr. John Rowe, a Columbia University professor who specializes in aging health policy and management. Changes in immigration and technology policy and changes in work and retirement requirements to allow individuals to remain productive in the workforce for longer periods could all help to mitigate the effect on the economy, Rowe said.

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