With 100,000 fewer births than in 2016, the US birth rate continued to fall in 2017. Today the US government published the 2017 demographic data:
- The fertility rate has dropped to 1.76 children per woman (versus 1.82 in 2016).
- There were only 3.8 million births in 2017 (100,000 less than in 2016).
- The fertility rate amongst 15-19 year-olds has dropped by 7% in one year, and by 55% since 2007.
- The number of pregnancies in women between 40 and 44 years of age has increased.
This is the lowest fertility rate since 1978 and the lowest birth rate since 1987. The current trend started with the onset of the 2007-2008 Great Recession and the economic upturn did not curb it. According to the analysis made by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution research centre in Washington DC, this “will become a problem if it continues for another three or four years”. This demographic trend “could jeopardise the foundations of the American economy” if it is not off-set by immigration.
It is caused by the fact that young Americans are waiting longer and longer to start a family because of study commitments and career prospects. “This trend is likely to continue unless there are policies in favour of parental leave”, adds William Frey.
Americans are below the generation replacement threshold (2.1 children per woman). This is a situation that “is nevertheless still more dynamic than in Italy (1.4) or Germany (1.5), but less dynamic than in France (1.9)”.