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U.S. birth rate slips to lowest level in 32 years

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 5/15/2019 Tim Balk

Pity Pampers.

The American baby bust entered its fourth straight year in 2018 as the birth rate sunk to its lowest level in more than three decades, according to provisional data published Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics.

“Record lows for teens, record lows for women in their 20s, record lows for the general fertility rate, record lows for the total fertility rate — these are certainly quite striking results,” Brady Hamilton, the lead author of the report, said by phone.

The total birth rate slipped 2%.

The fertility rate, which measures the expected number of babies for a woman of childbearing age, also sunk 2%, to its lowest rate ever. The fertility rate came out to 1.73 births per woman.

The largest drops came in younger age groups, with older age groups seeing modest increases from 2017.

The fertility rate “was again below replacement — the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself. ...The rate has generally been below replacement since 1971 and consistently below replacement for the last decade,” the report said.

Birth rates dropped for almost ever age group below age 35.

But the report also had “welcome news,” Hamilton said.

The birth rate for ages 15 to 19 declined 7%. Since 2007, the rate for that age group has dropped by almost 60%. And the report also found a decrease in caesarean births.

Women between ages 35 and 44 saw a slight uptick in childbirths for the year. The birth rate for the oldest age group in the provisional report, 40 to 44, ascended to almost 12 births per 1,000 women, a 2% bump.

Ages in the early 30s were the most popular time for women to have children. Almost one in ten women between ages 30 and 34 introduced a baby to the world.

Women between ages 25 and 29 were close behind, averaging 95.2 births per 1,000 women.

All told, the birth rate has not been so low since 1986.

Victoria Jennings, the director of the Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University, told the Daily News that the statistics aren’t particularly surprising given current social conditions, pointing to social norms, widespread access to contraception and a lack of access to day care.

“There are all sorts of disincentives for having children and many incentives for not,” Jennings said. “If you have your first child at 38, you’re unlikely to have five."


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