Births in the US decreased in 2020 to the lowest level in decades according to preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
An estimated 3.61 million babies were born in 2020, a decrease of 140,000 or 3.8% less than in 2019. The number of births is at its lowest level since 1979.
It was the sixth straight annual decline in the number of births. US births in 2020 were about 700,000 fewer than the 2007 peak of 4.3 million.
The other two primary measures of births in the US, birth rate (births per 1,000 people) and fertility rate (births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44) also declined for the sixth straight year.
The US birth rate declined 4.1% to 10.9 births per 1,000 people in 2020. The fertility rate reached a record low in 2020 of 55.8 births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. Last year saw a 4% drop in the fertility rate, which has declined an average of 2% a year since 2014.
The decline in births in the US is one of several factors impacting the nation’s population growth, along with immigration and mortality rates. The Census Bureau measured a 0.4% annual population growth rate in 2020, the lowest annual growth rate since 1918.
New Mexico birth rates dropped 7.2% over the last year, the largest decline of any state and almost twice the national percent decrease of 3.8%. New Hampshire experienced the smallest decline of any state, with births falling 0.6% last year.
Three out of the four largest states had greater percent declines in the number of births last year than the national average of 3.8%. California, Florida, and New York were in the top 8 states with the largest declines in the number of births. Texas was the exception with births decreasing 3.1% in 2020.
Larger states had the biggest impact on the drop in births. California is the largest state and accounted for 12% of total births in 2020. The state accounted for 19% of the decline in births last year.
Utah had the highest birth rate of all states, at 14.1 births per 1,000 people in 2020. Vermont had the lowest birth rate, at 8.2 births per 1,000 people last year.
Teen mothers' share of total births is down, while it is up for women 30-39.
The share of births for women aged 15 to 29 declined from 61% in 2010 to 49% in 2020. Women aged 30-44 accounted for 49% of births in 2020, up from 39% from 2010.
The share of births for women aged 20 to 24 also declined during this period. Women aged 20 to 24 accounted for 18% of all births in 2020, a decline from almost one-quarter of all births in 2010. The percentage of all births for females aged 15 to 19 has declined by more than half in the last 10 years. These trends account for the record-high average age of women at first birth. The most recent data from the CDC shows that the average age of mothers at first birth increased 8% to 27.0 years in 2019 from 24.9 years in 2000.
The birth rate for teenagers was a record low 15.3 births per 1,000 females aged 15 to 19. That is a decline of 8% from 2019, the largest of any age group.
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