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Fri May 18, 2018, 12:40 PM

U.S. Fertility Rate Fell to a Record Low, for a Second Straight Year

Source: New York Times, by Sabrina Tavernise

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Fertility rates are essential measures of a society’s demographic balance. If they are too high, that can strain resources like housing and education. If they are too low, a country can face challenges replacing its work force and supporting its older adults, like in Russia and Japan. In the United States, declines in rates have not led to drops in the population, in part because they have been largely offset by immigration.

The country has been living through one of the longest declines in fertility in decades and demographers are trying to figure out what is driving it. Rates tend to drop during difficult economic times as people put off having babies, and then rise once the economy rebounds. But the rate has not recovered since the Great Recession. A brief uptick in 2014 did not last. The number of births has also declined, and last year was its lowest level since 1987. The fertility rate is the number of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44.

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It could be that the new generation of millennial women is delaying having children even longer than the women who came before them, as prime childbearing years are also critical years for advancing in a career. A recent study shows that the marital pay gap that springs up after a first child is born typically does not close if the birth happens between age 25 and 35.

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A bright spot was the rate of births to teenagers, which has dropped 55 percent since 2007 — nearly 8 percent a year — a decline Dr. Hamilton called “phenomenal.” The teenage birthrate is down 70 percent since its peak in 1991, he said.


Read it all at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/17/us/fertility-rate-decline-united-states.html


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