U.S. births, fertility rates hit record low

by Diana Chandler, posted Wednesday, May 15, 2019 (9 days ago)

HYATTSVILLE, Md. (BP) -- U.S. births are at their lowest point in 32 years and fertility is at a record low, statistics released today (May 15) show.

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Births and fertility rates both fell 2 percent in 2018 from the previous year, the National Center for Health Statistics in Hyattsville, Md., said. For the past decade, fertility has been consistently below the replacement rate, the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself, NCHS said.

The decreased birth rate comes as the most recent abortion statistics in the U.S., based on 2015 data, show the lowest rate of abortions since the procedure was legalized nationwide.

Births totaled 3,788,235 in the U.S. in 2018, down from 3,855,500 in 2017. The numbers mark the fourth consecutive year of decline since a spike in 2014 and the lowest number since 3,731,000 births in 1986, the NCHS said.

The 2018 general fertility rate was 59 births per 1,000 women ages 15-44, down from 60.3 per 1,000 women in the age bracket in 2017. Comparatively the total fertility rate, the estimated number of births that a hypothetical group of 1,000 women would have over their lifetimes, was 1,728 births per 1,000 women, the study concluded.

Both the general fertility and the total fertility rates are at record lows, the NCHS said.

The report was drawn from provisional data based on 99.73 percent of 2018 births, and looked only at numbers, not causes.

In age groups, girls ages 10 to 14 birthed 1,731 babies in 2018, down from 1,917 born to the age group the previous year. By contrast, births to mothers ages 40 to 44 was 117,339 in 2018, up from 114,813 the previous year. Also, women ages 45-54 birthed 9,572 babies in 2018, up from 9,323 in 2017.

Women between 25 and 29 had the largest number of babies, 1,098,330 in 2018, down from 1,123,577 the previous year, according to the report.

In a separate and the latest study tallying abortions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said 638,169 abortions were reported to the CDC in 2015 for women 15 to 44 years old. The number was down 2 percent from 2014, the CDC said.

The 2015 abortion rate of 11.8 abortions per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, and the ratio of 188 abortions per 1,000 live births, were the lowest since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the U.S., the CDC reported.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The first paragraph of this story has been updated with new information.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.
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