A recent article in The New York Times on America’s declining fertility rates—“American Fertility Is Falling Short of What Women Want” (I note the article’s title appears to have changed)—was as concerning and risible as the news they reported.
The concerning part was its statistical confirmation of a trend bedeviling (not just) the Western world: the fall of fertility below replacement levels. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now calculates the U.S. fertility rate at 1.77 lifetime births per woman: anything below about 2.1 to 2.2 means that society is aging and shrinking.
The really interesting part of the article is its details and what it says (and doesn’t say) about why fertility is declining.
The one detail that stands out is that fertility rates appear to be declining for all age cohorts of women except for women over 40. Women over 40 make up the one group with an increase in fertility, but the article opines that this phenomenon is a temporary outlier: “the generation of women finishing up their childbearing years now had more children than their mothers did, but that isn’t likely to be true for their daughters.” Even 30-something women are now reporting a fall in fertility. Millennials do not augur a new Baby Boom.
The article also offers a plethora of reasons explaining the downward trend in fertility. It gives prominence to delayed marriage and childbirth: women are marrying later and having babies later. “The average age of [an American] woman at first birth is over 26 years old. … [M]any European countries have an average age of first birth over 30. … In fact, the United States has the youngest age of first childbirth of any developed country.” One wonders how much that may be attributable to immigrants.
Read more at Crisis Magazine.