x

Society

US Birth Rate Continues to Fall

America’s baby bust isn’t over. The nation’s birth rates last year reached record lows for women in their teens and 20s, a government report shows, leading to the fewest babies in 32 years.

The provisional report, released Wednesday and based on more than 99% of U.S. birth records, found 3.788 million births last year. It was the fourth year the number of births has fallen, the lowest since 1986 and a surprise to some experts given the improving economy.

The fertility rate of 1.7 births per U.S. woman also fell 2%, meaning the current generation isn’t making enough babies to replace itself. The fertility rate is a hypothetical estimate based on lifetime projections of age-specific birth rates.

Whether more U.S. women are postponing motherhood or forgoing it entirely isn’t yet clear.

If trends continue, experts said, the U.S. can expect labor shortages including in elder care when aging baby boomers need the most support.

“I keep expecting to see the birth rates go up and then they don’t,” said demographer Kenneth M. Johnson of University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy.

He estimates 5.7 million babies would have been born in the past decade if fertility rates hadn’t fallen from pre-recession levels.

“That’s a lot of empty kindergarten rooms,” said Johnson, who wasn’t involved in the report.

Other experts are not concerned, predicting today’s young women will catch up with childbearing later in their lives. The only two groups with slightly higher birth rates in 2018 were women in their late 30s and those in their early 40s.

“Our fertility rates are still quite high for a wealthy nation,” said Caroline Sten Hartnett, a demographer at the University of South Carolina.

American women are starting families sooner than most other developed nations, according to other research . Other countries are seeing similar declines in birth rates.

Young Americans still want to have children, but they don’t feel stable enough to have them yet, said Karen Benjamin Guzzo, who studies families at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

The U.S. could do more to encourage childbearing with parental leave, preschool expansion and child care subsidies and other policies aimed at helping young adults struggling with student loan debt and housing costs, Guzzo said.

Births were down across racial groups, with small declines for Hispanics, whites, blacks and Asians. The number of babies born to native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders was stable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report also found:

—Overall, the U.S. birth rate for women ages 15 to 44 was 59 births per 1,000 women, an all-time low.

—Last year, there were 2% fewer births than in 2017.

—Births to teenagers again reached a record low. The number of births to mothers ages 15 through 19 was 179,607, down 8%.

—The rate for premature births — delivery at less than 37 weeks — rose for the fourth straight year to just over 10%, from 9.9%.

___

By CARLA K. JOHNSON AP Medical Writer

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

RELATED

PHOENIX — Over 75 million people in the United States were under extreme heat alerts Monday as a heat wave moved eastward, and the mid-Atlantic and New England were likely to see highs in the 90s as the week progresses.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

1 of 2 Abducted Louisiana Children is Found Dead in Mississippi after Their Mother is Killed

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Louisiana woman was found dead in her home Thursday, and her two young daughters were abducted and found hours later in Mississippi — one dead and the other alive, police said.

DUESSELDORF, Germany  — It was a classic N'Golo Kanté performance.

FRANKFURT, Germany  — Two Romelu Lukaku goals were ruled out by video review and Belgium fell to a stunning 1-0 loss to Slovakia in wild Group E at the European Championship on Monday.

TORONTO  — A man and woman were shot to death and a male suspected as the attacker also died Monday at a north Toronto office space near a daycare center and a school, authorities said.

FLUSHING, NY – St. John’s Head Coach Rick Pitino was honored for his outstanding contributions to Panathinaikos B.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.