Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

U.S. Birthrate Drops 4th Year in a Row, Possibly Echoing the Great Recession (NYT)

NYT title: U.S. Birthrate Drops 4th Year in a Row, Possibly Echoing the Great Recession

NYT subtitle: The 2018 fertility rate remained below the level at which a given generation can replace itself, according to a government report published on Wednesday.

Date of publishing: 17 May 2019

“The United States’ birthrate fell for a fourth consecutive year in 2018, bringing the number of people born in the country to its lowest level in 32 years, according to provisional figures published on Wednesday by the federal government. It said the fertility rate in the United States also fell to a record low.

There were an estimated 3,788,235 people born in the United States last year, a 2 percent decrease from 2017 and the lowest number of births in any year since 1986, according to the report, published by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Demographers said a number of factors contributed to the downward trend, including fewer teenage pregnancies and the lingering effects of the Great Recession, which made it harder for people now in their 20s and 30s to reach the kind of milestones — like getting married, establishing a career or buying a home — that often precede starting a family.

“Some of the decline is a very positive signal that we are doing a better job of addressing unwanted teen pregnancies,” according to Jennifer Johnson-Hanks, a sociology professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study. But she said the data for women outside that age range was “more worrisome.”

The birthrate for women in their 20s fluctuated in the years before the 2008 financial crisis, dipping slightly up or down over time, but since then it has tended to drop year after year, Dr. Johnson-Hanks said.

According to the report, the birthrate among women in their early 20s declined 5 percent in 2018 and has dropped an average of 4 percent each year since 2007. The birthrate among women in their late 20s declined by 3 percent in 2018, it said.

Dr. Johnson-Hanks said those figures indicated that “it is hard for young adults these days to find their way out of precarity and into a living situation they find to be safe and secure and stable.”

Even though economic data indicates the recession ended in June 2009, “in this one demographic way, we are still seeing its aftereffects,” she said.

The 2018 total fertility rate, which is an estimate of the number of children born over a woman’s lifetime, also fell to a record low of 1,728 births per 1,000 women, according to the report.

That is below the rate at which a generation can replace itself, a deficit that has occurred every year for the last 10 years and has become almost expected in the United States since 1971. The report calculated the replacement level as 2,100 births per 1,000 women.

The long-term decline in both the birth and fertility rate is bringing the United States more closely in line with other wealthy countries. In Canada, the total fertility rate in 2017 was 1,496.1 births per 1,000 women, according to Statistics Canada. And in England and Wales, the total fertility rate in 2017 was an average of 1,760 births per 1,000 women, according to the Office for National Statistics.

“This is an important change, but it is not one that is making us extraordinary,” Dr. Johnson-Hanks said. “It is making us more like other rich countries. It is making us more normal, in a sense. This is what Canada looks like; this is what Western Europe looks like.”

The report said the birthrate decline was present in almost all segments of the population except for two: Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, whose birthrates remained stable, and women ages 35 to 44, whose birthrates increased slightly, the report said.

The data suggests the birthrate fell most sharply among teenagers, who saw a decline of 7 percent. Last year, a record low of 179,607 children were born to mothers ages 15 to 19, the report said.

Of the racial groups that were affected by the declining birthrate, Asian-Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives were hit the hardest, with a decline of 3 percent. The report said the number of births declined 1 percent for Hispanic women and 2 percent for non-Hispanic white and black women.

The report also tracked maternal health care, which was shown to be improving, but with racial disparities.

The data shows that the percentage of women receiving first trimester prenatal care rose slightly in 2018, to 77.5 percent, up from 77.3 percent in 2017. And the percentage of babies delivered by cesarean section stayed almost stable, declining to 31.9 percent from 32 percent.

But only 50.9 percent of Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander women received first trimester prenatal care in 2018, compared with 82.5 percent of non-Hispanic white women.

The report said first trimester prenatal care was received by 67.1 percent of non-Hispanic black women, 81.8 percent of Asian women, 72.7 percent of Hispanic women and 62.5 percent of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.”

Note NYT: “A version of this article appears in print on May 18, 2019, on Page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: Data Shows Fall in Birthrate for Fourth Year in a Row.”



Framework Posts


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest