US Birthrate Is Lowest In 32 Years, CDC Says

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: The U.S. birthrate fell again in 2018, to 3,788,235 births — representing a 2% drop from 2017. It’s the lowest number of births in 32 years, according to a new federal report. The numbers also sank the U.S. fertility rate to a record low. Not since 1986 has the U.S. seen so few babies born. And it’s an ongoing slump: 2018 was the fourth consecutive year of birth declines, according to the provisional birthrate report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Birthrates fell for nearly all racial and age groups, with only slight gains for women in their late 30s and early 40s, the CDC says. In what’s widely seen as a bright spot in the CDC’s provisional data, teenagers saw another sharp drop in birthrates, falling 7% in 2018 to 17.4 births per 1,000 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19. That rate has now declined by 58% since 2007 and by 72% since 1991. The rate of cesarean delivery, or C-section, fell to 31.9% in 2018, the CDC says. That’s down from a peak of 32.9% in 2009. The rate of cesarean procedures in low-risk cases also decreased, to 25.9% of all deliveries. From 2017 to 2018, the number of births fell 1% for Hispanic women and 2% for non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black women. The rate fell by 3% for women who are identified as non-Hispanic Asian and non-Hispanic AIAN (American Indian & Alaska Native). As for what’s causing the drop, many current or would-be parents who responded to the report cite the frustration of finding child care to high insurance costs and a lack of parental leave and other support systems. They also note that while the national economy has done well, workers’ paychecks haven’t been growing at the same pace. “The latest birthrate data put the U.S. further away from a viable replacement rate — the standard for a generation being able to replicate its numbers,” the report says in closing. “The U.S. has generally fallen short of that level since 1971, the CDC says.”

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