In the days following the Second World War, Americans returned home, looked to the future and made the decision to have babies — lots of them! The total fertility rate in the US after World War II peaked at about 3.8 children per woman in the late 1950s. The fertility rate peaked in 1957 with about 122 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44.
These children, many of them now retired, served as the backbone of the nation’s laborforce and built the most robust economy in world history; however, demographers are fearful that a growing trend in Western culture has finally reached the Untied States and may have dire consequences for future economies.
The trend is that women and couples are conscientiously choosing not to have children, or at the very least, not as many children.
According to provisional 2016 population data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America’s birthrate dropped an entire percentage point from the previous year and is now nearly half of the 1957 birthrate. The general fertility birth rate is 62.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44.
According to the new data, the United States’ birthrate has now fell below the “replacement level”, meaning that more people are dying in this country than are being born — a course that is causing alarm in many circles due to the fact that the nation’s birthrate is directly related to the stability of a population.
Birthrates that are too high place incredible strain on a nation’s infrastructure and resources, as is being observed in many parts of Asia; however, birthrates that are too low create a danger in societies being unable to replace an aging workforce — meaning that when the newly married couples of today reach retirement age, the nation may be experiencing a shortage in workers, tax payers and retirement contributors.
Demographers who study birthrates say the reason for decline in American births is due to sharp declines in teenage pregnancy, which is a good thing; however, the number of women who are having babies in their twenties has also sharply declined.
Interestingly, birthrates among women in their 30s and 40s is rising, but not enough to replace the decline in pregnancy numbers among teens and women in their twenties.
The data seems to illustrate the reality that American women are waiting far longer to have babies, as well as having fewer of them when they do have children.
Though noteworthy, the fertility rate decline in the United States is minor compared to the course other Western nations are experiencing, particularly in Europe.
In 2015 the fertility rate in Germany was 1.5 children per woman – 56 newborns per 1,000 women, well below the replacement level.
While birthrate statistics among women born in the United States and in Europe are experiencing sharp declines, the populations of these places are actually expanding in large part due to ever increasing immigration numbers.
In 1970 the immigration size of the United States was approximately 9.6 million, according to Migration Policy. By 2000, the number had expanded to 31.1 million and in 2013, the nation’s population was comprised of 41.3 million immigrants.
What exactly all of this data means and whether the trends will become longterm realities or serve more as tiny blips in the big picture remains to be seen; however, what is clear is that if things do not change, the demographics of the United States, as well as Western culture will be entirely different in only a generation or two.
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