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America’s birth rate is in a bad place that appears to be getting worse, according to a federal government report on 2018 fertility numbers published on Wednesday.
The report from the Centers for Disease Control says that the final birth rate number for 2018 was 3,791,712, showing a 2 percent decrease from 2017. “This is the fourth year that the number of births has declined following an increase in 2014,” the report explains. “Before that year, the number of births declined steadily from 2007 through 2013.” The report also shows a 2 percent decline in the General Fertility Rate, which measures the number of births per females aged 15-44.
The final 2018 numbers come just months after preliminary CDC findings released back in May showed that the United States’ birth rate was at its lowest point in 32 years, despite the country’s growing economy.
The numbers also show that Americans still aren’t having enough kids to replace the population. America’s Total Fertility Rate — an estimate of how many children women will have during the course of their lives — also dropped 2 percent from 2017 and now sits at 1,729.5 births per 1,000, below the level at which a given generation can replace itself, which the report places at 2,100 births per 1,000 women.
Wednesday’s report also shows that teen pregnancies have dropped at a higher rate than the overall number. 2018’s births for women between the ages of 15 and 19 dropped 7 percent. Furthermore, fewer kids are being born to moms who smoke, as the percentage of mothers who reported smoking during pregnancy dropped 6 percent from 2017.
America’s baby bust trend is bad news for older Americans who will rely on smaller future generations for economic support.
“All past projections of the proportion of the U.S. population that will be elderly, and eligible for Medicare and Social Security, have assumed that the previous higher birth rates remained constant,” Columbia University Professor John Rowe explained to Fox Business. “As rates have fallen, and fewer young people ultimately enter the labor force and pay into the Social Security and Medicare Trust funds, the solvency of these funds is threatened.”
Meanwhile, a 2016 analysis at Visual Capitalist explains that the global trend of lower fertility rates will likely lead to governments placing larger revenue burdens on a decreasing working-age population, thereby killing spending power and leading to stagnating economies.