Birthrate tumbles, at lowest recorded
NEW YORK — The U.S. birthrate fell 4% last year, the largest single-year decrease in nearly 50 years, according to a government report released Wednesday.
The rate dropped in every major race and ethnicity and in nearly every age group, falling to the lowest point since federal health officials started tracking it more than a century ago.
Births have been declining in younger women for years, as many postponed motherhood and had smaller families.
Birthrates for women in their late 30s and in their 40s have been inching up. But not last year.
“The fact that you saw declines in births even for older moms is quite striking,” said Brady Hamilton, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead author of the new report.
The CDC report is based on a review of more than 99% of birth certificates issued last year. The findings echo a recent Associated Press analysis of 2020 data from 25 states showing that births had fallen during the coronavirus outbreak.
The pandemic no doubt contributed to last year’s big decline, experts say. Anxiety about covid-19 and its impact on the economy likely caused many couples to think that having a baby right then was a bad idea.
Other highlights from the CDC report:
About 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S. last year, down from about 3.75 million in 2019. When births were booming in 2007, the U.S. recorded 4.3 million births.
The U.S. birthrate dropped to about 56 births per 1,000 women of child-bearing age, the lowest rate on record. The rate is half of what it was in the early 1960s.
The birthrate for 15- to
19-year-olds dropped 8% from
2019. It’s fallen almost every year since 1991.
Birthrates fell 8% for Asian American women; 3% for Hispanic women; 4% for Black and white women; and 6% for moms who were American Indians or Alaska Natives.
Some good news: The percentage of infants born small and premature — at less less than 37 weeks of gestation — fell slightly, to 10%, after rising five years in a row.