US birth rate drops to lowest level in 45 years – report says

Americans have far fewer babies for many reasons

Women in the US are having children at the lowest rate since record keeping began; only 3.59 million births were recorded in the country in 2023, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Americans have been having fewer children for the past 20 years, but the number of births last year is the lowest since the 3.4 million figure recorded in 1979, the NCHS noted. The US population was 225 million at the time, compared to almost 335 million now.
The general fertility rate fell 3% from the year before to 54.4 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age (defined as 15–44). The total fertility rate was just 1.61, down 2% from 2022. The US birth rate has been below the replacement level of 2.1 since 2007.
Unplanned pregnancies – mostly among teenagers – have fallen by 2% from the previous year, representing a 68% decline from 2007 levels. Birth rates for the 20-24 age bracket have dropped by almost 50% since 2007 as well. The only demographic that saw an increase in birth rates was Hispanic women, with a modest 1% gain from 2022.
The NCHS is a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It relies on birth certificates to provide a snapshot of US population trends and does not look at the underlying factors, said Brady Hamilton, the lead author of the report.

Karen Guzzo, a demographer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has pointed to research that shows young Americans are delaying family formation for financial reasons. Among the factors Americans have cited for waiting or not having children at all are economic strain, work instability, political polarization, student loans, healthcare cost and accessibility, climate change and global conflicts, Guzzo told the Wall Street Journal.
US birth rates rose slightly right before the 2008 financial crisis, but have declined by 11% overall since 2000. Guzzo has pointed to “unstable work hours” and lack of paid leave in the “gig economy” that has arisen since the Great Recession.
Demographers such as Guzzo have argued that Americans need paid family leave and other benefits to promote the standard of living for young families. US surveys have persistently shown frustration with the “skyrocketing” cost of healthcare and childcare as well.
Birth rates in many wealthy nations with arguably better social support have been declining as well, however, which demographers have commonly attributed to “uncertainty” and “economic instability.” Meanwhile, the countries with the highest birth rates in the world in 2023 were all in sub-Saharan Africa: Niger (6.73), Angola (5.76) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (5.56).