U.S. birth rate in 2020 saw largest decline in almost 50 years, CDC says

A woman balances a Halloween pumpkin and a baby in St. Louis, Mo., in October. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

May 6 (UPI) — Birth and fertility rates in the United States declined again last year, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed Wednesday — with births down 4% to the lowest level in more than 40 years.

The total and general fertility rates in 2020 also declined 4% from 2019 to record lows. The report said at the current level — known as “below replacement” — there are more people dying every day than are being born.

The decline from 2019 to 2020 is the largest single-year decrease in nearly 50 years.

The U.S. birth rate last year was down to about 56 births per 1,000 women of child-bearing age, which is the lowest rate on record.

The birth rate figure, the lowest since 1979, continues a downward trend and marks the sixth consecutive year that the number of births have declined.

The report does not attribute the overall decline to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 3.6 million births were recorded nationally in 2020, down from the 3.75 million births in 2019, the data showed. The 2019 figure was down from 3.79 million in 2018.

Overall, the number of births declined for women in every race and ethnicity from 2019 to 2020 — 4% for White and Black women, 3% for Hispanic women, 8% for Asian Americans and 6% for Native Americans and Alaska Natives, the report said.

Birth rates among teens also dropped to record lows with births to 15- to 17-year-olds falling by 6% and to 18- to 19-year-olds dropping by 7%.

From 2007 to 2020, the rates for teenagers 15-17 declined by 9% per year and those 18-19 declined by 7%, the report showed. Births for females 15-19 was down 157,500 last year, a yearly decline of 8%.

Birth rates among women 20-24 dropped by 6% and dipped by 4% for those 25-29, both record lows. The rate fell for women 30-34 by 4% and 35-39 by 2%, according to the data, while the rate for women 40-44 fell by 2% from 2019.

Child health expert Dr. David Gozal said recently that birth rates are expected to decline for several years in high-income countries like the United States, further accelerating population aging.

“In general, longevity has increased while fertility has declined, resulting in an increase in the proportion of the older people,” Gozal, pediatrician-in-chief at University of Missouri Women’s and Children’s Hospital, told UPI in March.

Gozal did not participate in the CDC analysis.

The data released Wednesday was calculated by using preliminary population estimates from the 2010 Census and birth records received by the National Center for Health Statistics as of Feb. 11.


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