The number of babies born in America has hit a record low in 32 years. In the last decade, the fertility rate has been falling, but authorities predicted it would spike again after the recession. It turns out that economic factors are not the only determinants for the country’s fertility rate.
Experts have been following the fertility rate’s trend to determine future demographics and overall well-being of the citizens of the country. Given previous patterns, an economic boom usually results in higher fertility rates. Recessions incline more people to save for the future instead of investing in it, and since a child requires a lot of investment, people during this time are less likely to want children. This generation, however, has proven this link to the economy as faulty, especially since there are a lot more factors to consider other than general financial wealth.
In 2018, the United States official provisional number of births was 3,788,235, a 2% decline from the previous year. Total fertility rate also fell by 2% at 1,728 births per 1,000 women in 2018. Birth rates for almost all age groups of women declined, in particular, birth rates for teenagers (women aged 15 to 19) was down 7%. The only age group that saw a rise in births were women in their later 30s to early 40s.
Demographers hypothesize that this decline was attributed to both a want and need for women to enter the workforce. Some households needed to have two incomes to buy things after the recession, so women had to start working. Given this rise in women working, attitudes have changed towards women’s expectations in life, so many entered the workforce because they want to. Coupled with contraceptives as an enabler, this change in attitude has led to a decline in total births.
Debt, however, is still one of the driving factors for the decline in the country’s total births. Student debt is one of the biggest worries for the current working generation, and until that has been paid off, many do not wish to have children yet. As attitudes, technology, and economic situation change, so will citizens’ wishes to start a family.