The US isn't yet grappling with the economic disaster that is a shrinking popuation – unlike Japan. Though it's starting to look like a not-too-distant possibility. US birthrates fell to yet another historic low in 2016 as a whirlwind of economic and cultural factors inspire more women to delay, or forgo, having children. According to provisional data for the fourth quarter provided by the CDC, the US birthrate has declined to 62 births per 1000 women – its lowest level on record, and down from 62.5 in 2015.
This is especially troubling because demographers worry that a dwindling birth rate will hurt economic growth and tax revenues needed to fund transfer payments to a growing elderly population, as more members of the baby boomer generation age into retire.
The CDC did not say why the birth rate is declining. But according to Axios, research and surveys have shown several reasons, including wider availability of birth control, personal economic instability from student loans or other debt, women focused on launching a career before starting a family, and a growing acceptance that not everyone wants to have children.
If the Trump administration achieves higher economic growth, it’s unlikely to do so fast enough to support the mandated 9% increase in entitlement spending for older Americans without more deficit spending. Trump says he intends to preserve Social Security and Medicare spending levels.
The highest birthrates are now seen among women aged 30-34. Previously, the highest rate had been for women aged 25-29, which fell to 101.9 in 2016.
Chart courtesy of Axios
Furthermore, as Statista notes, teenage pregnancy is in continual decline in the United States. As preliminary data released in a newreport by the National Centre for Health Statistics on Friday reveals, the birth rate of mothers in the 15-19 age group dropped to a record low of 20.3, amounting to 209,480 births in 2016. Compared to 2015, this is a decrease of almost 9% and even 62% when compared to 1996.
Conversely, birth rates of women aged 40-44 are on the rise: While it stood at 6.8 in 1996, the provisional birth rate for this age group is 11.4 births per 1,000 women in 2016, which accounts for an increase of 4% compared to the previous year.
You will find more statistics at Statista
Here are a few other interesting data points from the CDC, courtesy of Axios:
- The CDC estimates the fertility rate in 1960 was about 118 births per 1,000 women, or almost double what it is today.
- Despite the record low birth rate, more than 3.94 million babies were born in 2016, which was about 37,000 fewer than 2015.
- The highest birth rate is now among women aged 30-34 at 102.6 births per 1,000 women. Previously, the highest rate had been for women aged 25-29, which fell to 101.9 in 2016.
- U.S. births by race origin of the mother: 52% white, 23% Hispanic, 14% black, 6% Asian, 1% Native American/native of Alaska, Hawaii or Pacific Islands.
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Economists worry that if birthrates continue to decline, America’s economy will enter a period of stagnant growth like that experienced by Japan over the past two decades. As we reported last year, the problem of falling fertility in Japan, which at 1.4 births per woman, has one of the lowest fertility rate in the developed world, is so severe, that Japan's lawmakers have decided to take action. Late last year, Japan’ cabinet approved a record $830 billion spending budget for fiscal 2017, which includes child-rearing support. However, the birth rate in the US remains positive, while Japan's population is shrinking.
However, at this rate, the local population may not need the free money in the not too distant future. The only hope, as in the case of many European nations, is that a surge in immigration will offset the natural decline of the domestic population, whose average age has never been higher…