Thursday, May 17, 2018

Births in 2017 at Lowest Level in 30 Years

Despite the economic recovery, the baby bust continues. Only 3,853,472 babies were born in the U.S. in 2017—the lowest number since 1987, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Except for a small increase in 2014, the number of births has fallen in every year since 2007, when births hit a record high of 4.3 million.

Number of births (in 000s)
2017: 3,853
2016: 3,946
2015: 3,978 
2014: 3,988
2013: 3,932
2012: 3,953
2011: 3,954
2010: 3,999 (start of baby bust)
2009: 4,131
2008: 4,248
2007: 4,316 (record high)

The most recent decline in births is not trivial: 92,000 fewer babies were born in 2017 than in 2016, a 2 percent drop. The NCHS report is littered with record lows. The nation's 
fertility rate fell to 60.2 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, an all-time low. Birth rates for women aged 15 to 19, 20 to 24, and 25 to 29 fell to new record lows. Even among women in their 30s, birth rates fell between 2016 and 2017, after rising for the past few years. Women aged 40 or older were the only ones with higher birth rates in 2017.

The continuing baby bust despite the economic recovery is a surprise. While there are many possible explanations, one stands out. Young adults are economically fragile. Student loans, rising rents, unpredictable work schedules, costly day care, and the growing importance of women's earnings to financial wellbeing are all behind the baby bust.  

Source: National Center for Health Statistics, Births: Provisional Data for 2017 (pdf)

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