America's Shrinking: Birth Rates Continue to Decline

New Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provisional data shows birth rates in the United States continue to decline and may be slowly approaching the annual mortality rate.

According to the latest CDC Vital Statistics report, fertility rates in the United States continue to drop, reaching their lowest annual number since 1979. Provisional data shows 3,591,328 million babies were born in 2023 — down 2% from 2022. Moreover, aside from a slight uptick during the COVID-19 pandemic, birth rates have been declining by 2% annually since 2015.

The data shows a decline in birth rates among women ages 20 to 39, while rates among those over 40 remained unchanged.

Rates among women ages 20 to 24 were down 4% from 2022 — another record low for this age group. The CDC notes that the birth rate among women in their early 20s has declined by 47% since 2007.

Teenagers are also giving birth less often, as the 2023 data indicates that the number of babies born to females ages 15 to 19 declined by 3% from 2022. The teen birth rate has decreased by 68% since 2007 and 79% since 1991.

While the birth rate among women over 40 rose almost continuously from 1985 through 2022, the latest CDC numbers show that it remained relatively unchanged from 2022 to 2023.

In addition, the number of babies born via cesarean section increased for the fourth year in a row to 32.4% in 2023 — the highest rate since 2013. However, the preterm birth rate in 2023 was largely unchanged from the previous year.

The reasons for the downturn in fertility rates are unclear. However, reports suggest that couples might choose to remain childless due to the rising cost of living and the challenges of raising children in today's world. What’s more, some individuals remain child-free because they want to have social and financial freedom.

Increased access to contraception, including new over-the-counter birth control pill options, may also play a role.

Moreover, evidence suggests that sperm counts in men have declined by 50% over the past 50 years, which could contribute to falling fertility rates.

Concerns over declining birth rates

CDC data shows that in 2022, approximately 3,273,705 deaths occurred in the U.S. — just over 300,000 less than the number of births identified in the 2023 provisional birth rate data. If fertility rates continue to fall, the number of deaths could eventually outpace births.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk has warned that downward trends in fertility rates may eventually lead to the end of humankind. In a 2022 X post, Musk said that low birth rates threaten civilization more than environmental concerns.

A study recently published in The Lancet suggests that by 2050, over 75% of countries worldwide will not have birth rates high enough to sustain the population. The study authors say this percentage will increase to 97% of countries by 2100.

Moreover, the researchers warn that governments must plan for threats to economies, food security, health, and the environment that may result from significant population declines. These potential threats include labor shortages, less support for older adults, and reduced tax revenue.

According to the study, countries need to have a total fertility rate of 2.1 children per female to sustain long-term generational replacement of the population.


Leave a reply

Your email will not be published. All fields are required.