US birth rate hits historic low
According to a study spearheaded by Brady Hamilton, PhD, of the Atlanta, Georgia CDC office, the crude birth rate within the United States has slipped to 12.7 per 1,000 people in the year 2011, the lowest level the statistic has ever seen. That figure is down from the 2010 level of 13.0 births per thousand people, and represents just a fraction of the 21.1 births for every thousand Americans that was the norm in 1950.
The study, which pulled from official birth and death data collected in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia, has been printed in part online and will be published in full in the March 2013 issue of Pediatrics. Explaining the report, the authors say it shows "the lowest rate ever reported for the United States.”
"If the 1991 rates had continued to prevail from 1992 through 2011, an estimated 3.6 million additional births to women aged 15 to 19 years would have occurred in the United States,” the authors write.
Instead, however, slinking statistics in recent years have led to a gradual decrease in number of births in relation to the rest of the population. According to the study, though, that drop has occurred almost across the board, with fewer births coming out of most age groups in the US.
In regards to the crude birth rate for teenage parents, that statistic dropped by 8 percent between 2010 and 2011, clocking in a historic new low of 31.3 births per 1,000 people. The birth rate dropped for women in their 20s, but rose slightly for those between the ages of 35 and 40. The significant drop in teenage pregnancies is already being cited as good news by physicians, though, who say it’s a good indicator of Americans being more aware of the responsibilities of raising a child. For economists, though, it could mean that young US citizens are simply unable to afford having kids.
"The economy has declined, and that certainly is a factor that goes into people's decisions about having a child,” Dr. Hamilton tells Reuters Health.
"Women may say to themselves, ‘It's not a particularly good time right now… let's wait a little bit,'" he says.