Fewer U.S. women are giving birth, a trend with ominous implications for the future, according to new data.
America’s total fertility rate — the number of births a woman is expected to have over her lifetime — is 1.73, an all-time low, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed.
A rate of 2.10 births per woman is needed for a generation to replace itself, the CDC figures.
The decrease may be due to a variety of factors, experts say — from women delaying childbirth and then facing fertility problems to a lack of protections for mothers and drops in teen pregnancy rates and unwanted pregnancies.
“The bottom line is the size of the American family has changed a lot over time, for historical reasons and societal factors,” said John Santelli, professor of population and family health at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, ABC News reported.
“Parents have to have two kids to replace themselves in the next generation.”
The birth rate for females ages 15 to 19 fell 7% in 2018, the CDC says. Birth rates also declined for women ages 20 to 34 but increased for women aged 35 and higher.
“It’s nuts to blame women,” according to Santelli. “Women make choices that are good for them and their families.”
“I don’t think we should expect women to bear more children for the country,” he said. “And the population of the U.S. is not shrinking, so we should not panic about these things.”