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Graphic charts number of U.S. births and fertility rates since 1990.


U.S. birth rate falls to lowest level since 1979

By Ninian Carter

May 5, 2021 - The birth rate in the United States fell 4% last year – to the lowest since 1979 – dropping “below replacement levels”, a government report finds.

U.S. birth and fertility rates fell to a record low in 2020, as births dropped for a sixth consecutive year since an increase in 2014.

Provisional findings published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics show the birth rate tumbled 4% last year to 3,605,201 newborns – doubling the recent average annual decline of 2%. The fall occurred for women in nearly all age groups and of every major race and ethnicity.

Births have been declining in younger women for years, as many postpone motherhood, choosing to carve out a career instead. Generally, birth rates for women in their late 30s and in their 40s have been slowly rising, but not in 2020.

It is the largest single year drop in decades and is believed to have been caused in part by the coronavirus pandemic triggering many couples to rethink their baby plans amid anxiety over its impact on the economy.

Over a decade ago, the estimated fertility rate was 2.1 children per U.S. woman. Last year it fell to 1.6, which is below replacement levels, meaning more people now die every day in the United States than are being born.

The report is based on data collated from more than 99% of birth certificates issued in the U.S. in 2020.

PUBLISHED: 05/05/2021; STORY: Graphic News