A United States government report released last week showed a record low in the birth rate in the United States for women in their teens and 20s – the lowest rate in 32 years.
The report also showed that the total fertility rate in the US is expected to be 1.73 children per woman through their child-bearing years, a drop of 2% from last year. Last year’s total births were 3.7888 million, which is the lowest since 1986. This is the fourth year that the birth rate has fallen.
The 1.73% fertility rate means that today’s US generation is not having enough babies to replace itself. According to experts, a rate of 2.1 births is the baseline for the younger generation to replace the aging population. The US has not achieved this baseline in ten years.
The trend of lower birth rates was found across all races, including Asians, Hispanics, whites and blacks.
Some US demographic experts are concerned about future economic issues such as a smaller workforce and labor shortages just when the aging generation will require extensive elder care.
Other experts are less concerned, saying that young women will bear children in their 30s and 40s. In fact, women in their late 30s and early 40s were the only ones to have a slightly higher birth rate in 2018, although only 1-2%. These statistics signify the current trend of many women pushing off having children to later in their lifetimes.
Other countries are facing all out-crisis in their fertility rates. China has a fertility rate of 1.62 births per woman, and the government ended its one-child policy in 2016 after 35 years of strictly enforcing it. In Japan, the birth rate is currently 1.43 per woman and the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has called it a national crisis. The birth rate in Greece, where there has been an ongoing economic crisis for years, is even lower.
Israel has the highest fertility rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) by far with a rate of 3.1 children per woman. Israel has also seen an increase in births rather than a decline in the last two decades.
Experts say that Israel’s high fertility rates cannot be explained by haredi or Arab women, who usually have large families, and in fact, the rate has been driven up by non-religious educated women. In other countries, educated women have less children than their uneducated counterparts but in Israel educated women have just as many children as non-educated ones. No experts have been able to fully explain why Israel’s birth rate is so much higher than other OECD countries.