Fertility Rates In The US Reach New Low: Report

Newly released data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that fertility rates in the country reached an all-time low in 2023.

Last year, just below 3.6 million children were born, roughly 76,000 fewer births than the country saw in 2022 and historically marking the lowest number of births in America since 1979.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, birth rates in the United States were on a steady decline for the past decade. Between 2019 and 2020, this rate lessened by 4%. An increase during 2021 and 2022 has been partially attributed to the rise in pregnancies during the beginning of the pandemic.

American women in their 30s and 40s have seen the birth rate increase while young women and teenagers have been giving birth at lower rates. This trend—which is not newly recognized in the CDC report—has often been credited to the popular move of putting off motherhood until later in life, after women have succeeded in education and careers.

In 2023, though, birth rates for all women under the age of 40 had lowered and remained the same for those over age 40. The report from the CDC—released on Thursday, April 25—is based on nearly all of the birth certificates filed last year. However, the results are only preliminary and could be adjusted once finalized.

Some have argued that the decrease in births is related to the June 2022 Dobbs decision, which revoked a constitutional “right” to abortion and left individual states to determine their own abortion legislation. The link is based on expert estimates that up to half of pregnancies are not planned.

Others have expressed concern with the preliminary figures from the report. One professor with expertise in population, family and pediatrics—Dr. John Santelli of Columbia University—has stated that the new data showing a historic low in birth rates is not good. He pointed out that “whatever we’re doing for kids in middle and high school is faltering.”

By state, the fertility rates declined in 28 out of 50. Most states that saw a drop in births were down by 1-2% from 2022, with the second largest group decreasing by 2-3%. North Dakota and Washington, D.C., saw the steepest impact, with fertility rates lowering by 7-8% between 2022 and 2023. New Jersey, Texas and Florida each saw a rise in birth rates by 1-2%.