A new government study finds that Americans aren’t making babies as rapidly as past generations.
And while researches didn’t offer any one reason as to the decline, the startling facts are that if this trend continues, we’ll actually have fewer babies to replace ourselves.
Researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that in order for the population to reproduce itself at the current rate, the “total fertility rate” needs to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women of child-bearing age per year.
However, the latest numbers indicate a worrisome trend of just 1,765.5 per 1,000 women — roughly 16% below the current levels needed for our population to remain stable — without depending on immigration to fill the void.
The decline in making babies isn’t new the fertility rate has been steadily dropping for the past 7-years. However, what is alarming is the recent historic drop in 2017.
For example, the fertility rate in 2016 was 1,820.5 per 1,000 women — a decline of 23 in one year. In 2014, the was 1862.5, for a total reduction of 42 births within the last 3 years.
Perhaps even more troubling is the lack of information by the CDC to explain why the rate is dropping so precipitously.
Thus far researches are split as to the actual cause of the decline, with some suggesting there isn’t a single reason, more likely a combination of factors within a modern, mobile society, including a mixture of changing attitudes and social mores, encompassing economics, woman perusing carriers and education delaying the traditional role as mothers, and perhaps the most significant greater availability of contraception, and a decline in teen pregnancies.
This trend, however, isn’t confined to only America, in fact, Dr. John Rowe, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, acknowledges that other studies show much of the same data within industrially developed nations, including Western Europe.
Dr. Rowe believes that what’s driving the fertility rates down within those developed nations is the changing roles of women in society.
“In general women are getting married later in life,” he explained. “They are leaving home and launching their families later.”
Dr. Helen Kim, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, also weighed in on the issue saying, “I think as women delay child-bearing they may not realize that fertility declines with age and that there are limits to what fertility treatments can do for them.”
Kim, appearing Wednesday on NBC News, emphasized that although science has made great strides in fertility rates among older woman within recent decades, “that may not be enough to make up for the decline” in births among younger women.
Moreover, Kim explained that the concept of the ideal family size may be changing. “There are shifts where having smaller families is a trend,” she added. “I can’t speak on this as a sociologist, but this is what I’ve seen among my peers and colleagues.”
Perhaps rather than relying on speculation by experts, the more practical solution is to go directly to the source. A recent poll conducted by Morning Consult for The New York Times details why young adults have fewer children.
Some of the reasons given are predictable, for example; “more leisure time and personal freedom.” While others were perhaps more personal for example; “not having a partner yet; not being able to afford child-care costs.”
Here are the top 5-reasons why young adults are delaying having babies:
Child care is too expensive-64%
Want more time for the children I have-54%
Worried about the economy-49%
Can’t afford more children-44%
Waited because of financial instability-43%