Why are birth rates falling?

Why are birth rates falling?

Why are birth rates falling in the U.S.?

More women are choosing to wait to start their families or choosing to not have children. This has resulted in a noticeable decline in birth rates in the United States. But, is this indicative of what we can expect in the future? Or another trend that will fade? 

Declining Birth and fertility rates

Birth rates in the United States have been on the decline over the past decade. For example, in 2018 there were 59.1 births for every 1,000 aged 15-44 women and dropped to 58.3 in 2019. In 2020, there were 55.8 births. 

 In 2020, the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) reached an all-time low at just 1.64. In order for the current population to replace itself on its own, the TFR would need to be 2.1. To better understand why we must first understand the difference between birth rates and the total fertility rate (TFR).

Birth Rate vs. Total Fertility Rate

Birth Rates are the number of births for a population in a year. However, the TFR measures the average number of children a woman could give birth to throughout her reproductive age. For example, the birth rate looks at the total number of live births per 1,000 in a population over a year. The total fertility rate looks at the total number of live births per 1,000 women in their reproductive years, 15-49. 

 However, trends calculated by live births per year can also be misleading.


What’s contributing to the low birth rate?

 Women in the United States are holding off on getting married and starting a family. As a result, the average age of women having their first child has increased from 22.7 in 1980 to 26.9 in 2018.

In the past, we have also seen that women who have pursued higher education have predominantly been less likely to be mothers. However, in recent years there has been a noticeable change in this trend as well.

For example, in 2014, 80-82% of women who have received their Bachelor's and Ph.D. degrees became mothers. Yet in 1994, only 70% of women with a Bachelor's or a 4-year degree, and only 62% of women with Ph.D's were mothers. 

As a result, the annual birth rate is affected when women choose to delay becoming mothers. However, suppose they decide to have the same number of children later on. In that case, it won't affect the fertility rate (TFR), and today's birth rates can rebound. On the other hand, if there is not the same number of live births later on in a woman's life, the birth rate and fertility rate will continue to decrease.

There are several factors to consider when looking at why the birth rate in the United States is declining. Many women are choosing when and if they want to have children. The use of birth control and safe sex practices allows women to decide when they want to start a family and pursue higher education or be active in the workforce. Couples may also be struggling with infertility, which will also impact the birth rate. In fact, as many as 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility. Females range from 12-16% infertility rates, while males are about 10-15%. Both however, are difficult to estimate due to multiple factors.  Broader social factors may also play a role in the declining birth rate trend.

There’s many reasons why someone would want to have a baby or forgo having a baby. Luckily, there’s tools to help people achieve either of those goals. If you are trying to conceive, or trying to avoid falling pregnant, Stix has the tools to help you stay in tune with your body and reach your reproductive goals. 

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