U.S. Birth Rate Hits All Time Low—Total Fertility Rate Nearly At All Time Low


U.S. Fertility Rate Trend

The National Center for Health Statistics is reporting that the U.S. birth rate hit an all-time low in 2013. The agency reports that there were 3.93 million births in the United States in 2013, down less than 1% from 2012 and 9% from the recent 2007 high. The New York Times further reported

…the general fertility rate in the United States — the average number of babies women from 15 to 44 bear over their lifetime — dropped to a record low last year, to 1.86 babies, well below the 2.1 needed for a stable population. For every 1,000 women ages 15 to 44, there were 62.5 births in 2013, compared with 63 the previous year.

The Times cites experts who suggest that the decline in births stems in large measure from post-Great Recession economic concerns.

In fact, the only years in which that the U.S. general fertility rate was lower than 1.86 occurred during the 1970s when the rate fell to 1.74 births in 1976. It is notable that the 1970s were also a time of considerable economic disarray. Analysts cited by the Times suggest that the fertilty rate will bounce back once the economic situation improves just as it did when the memories of Jimmy Carter began fading away.

I would suggest that there are good reasons to doubt that prognostication, not least of which is the strong correlation between higher percentages of educated women and lower overall fertility. For example, American women today earn around 60 percent of all college degrees. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes by 27 years of age, 32 percent of women had received a bachelor's degree, compared with 24 percent of men.

The Census Bureau reported in 2011 that college-educated women delayed childbearing but did catch up a bit in their 30s. In its report, the NCHS similarly observed that birth rates had dropped to record lows in 2013 among women under age 30 and rose for most age groups 30 and over. From the Bureau:

In 2000, women 25 to 34 with at least a bachelor's degree had fewer total children and were less likely to have ever given birth compared with women who had less than a high school education. Women with less than a high school education had three times as many births as women with at least a bachelor's degree. Eighty-three percent of women 25 to 34 with less than a high school education had given birth at twice the percentage recorded by women with at least a bachelor's degree (42 percent).      

By 2010, the education level of these women — now 10 years older — made less of a difference in their total number of children than it did in 2000. Women 35 to 44 (corresponding with the 25 to 34 age group in 2000) with at least a bachelor's degree had 1.7 births, while women who had less than a high school education had 2.5 births. Eighty-eight percent of women 35 to 44 with less than a high school education had a birth compared with 76 percent of women with at least a bachelor's degree.

Nevertheless, the Bureau noted that women with college degrees are still having fewer children overall by the end of their childbearing years. Consequently, I doubt that the U.S. total fertility rate will ever again rise above the replacement rate of 2.1 children.

See also Reason TV's excellent interview with filmmaker Jessica Yu in which she explains why she concluded that overpopulation is a myth in her documentary Misconception:

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    1. Obviously not doing his job.

      1. He’s .45 of the way there.

    2. The flimsy wombs of human women are not up to the task of bringing Warty’s seed to fruition. Those who didn’t die in the attempt certainly wish they had.

      1. Wasn’t there a rumor that Warty had managed to implant his spawn in a human female? Or was that a joke?

        1. Only Warty and SugarFree know for sure…

        2. Yes, he does in fact have a newborn baby daughter, but she has weak traps and lats, so it might not be his.

          1. Oh, I didn’t realize it had gotten borned yet.

  1. Well, it looks like we’ll have to import a few million to do our laundry and mow our lawns.

  2. Import from where?

    Most of the rest of the world’s birth rates are even lower and in places where it is still high it is declining rapidly

    1. From countries where almost everyone is too poor to afford birth control, duh.

      1. From countries where almost everyone is too poor misogynistic to afford subsidize birth control, duh

    2. From places with fucked up economies that don’t make effective use of the available labor. Like what we do now.

  3. Make war on the economy so people have less money, check. Pass idiotic nanny state laws that make parents more subject to criminal liability, check. Create a cult of the child culture that creates enormous social pressures that make parenting much more expensive that it needs to be, check.

    How could the birth rate possibly be so low? It is just bad luck I guess.

    1. Dead on, John.

    2. I’d also toss in divorce laws that punitively punish the father for being a man.

      1. More than that – a strongly misandric culture in general.

    3. Don’t forget to limit land use to drive up housing prices and to zone schools by zip code so that you either have to pay taxes out the ass for a decent school district or pay out the ass for private school.

      That’s why I endure living with my mother-in-law.

      1. Ouch.

    4. How about we send our wiminz folk to colleges that make them so stupid and repulsive that men won’t go near them? Maybe that will help.

      1. winner.

    5. The last two certainly have affected my attitude towards having children.

    6. I would like to think that part of the reason is that maybe, just maybe that it is finally getting through that being a single mother isn’t all that fucking noble and maybe is one the most fucked up, selfish things you can do for your child.

      But hey, I’m just an angry, misogynistic, patriarch with the anachronistic idea one of the best things for children is having father’s in their lives.

      1. Theocrat! I bet you want to reinstate the Inquisition, too!

        1. Unexpectedly, right?

    7. There’s also the view that being a stay at home mom is bad (as opposed to a legitimate option), which makes it harder too.

      1. Yes. Lets have our entire mass media culture devalue and insult the job of raising children. What could possibly go wrong?

      2. Having a stay at home parent is key. It must kind of suck to be a kid who spends more time in day care and with baby sitters than with parents.

        Once nursing is done, I don’t think it matters which parent. I had a stay at home dad (more or less, he worked, but was flexibly self employed and could take us along a lot of the time), which was great. And he was probably one of the more manly and masculine people you could ever meet, so shut the fuck up.

      3. I also think there’s a small but influential subset of stay at home moms that spreads the idea that if you’re not sufficiently obsessed with your kids and managing their lives and habits to the tiniest detail, then you’re a bad mom. When really you can be a stay at home mom and have a life. My mom was at home most of the time outside of her PT job as a pianist and she’d read to us and take us on occasional excursions, but mostly did her own thing and expected us to entertain ourselves. We didn’t complain about being bored to her because she’d give us chores. Kids just need a parent to be close by.

  4. the general fertility rate in the United States ? the average number of babies women from 15 to 44 bear over their lifetime ? dropped to a record low last year, to 1.86 babies, well below the 2.1 needed for a stable population.

    ladies, do we need to mansplain your responsibilities under the social contract?

  5. I simply can’t afford another child. I already have millions of federal employees and welfare recipients to take care of.

  6. On topic: I had a consult for my vasectomy yesterday.

    1. Haven’t you already replaced yourself and the missus?

      1. Yes. And a third unplanned kidl. I have a 3 month old sleeping on me right now.

        1. Protip: When your youngest asks about the time lapse between the first two and themselves, refer to the unplanned aspect as “an accident” rather than “a mistake.”

          Source: I’m the mistake

          1. No, you’re and Oops! baby, not a mistake!

          2. That will all depend on how much I like him as a teenager.

    2. or – as we in the manufacturing business call it – shipping expendables with no product.

      1. okay, that was funny. but scary.

        1. Tight underwear is key. I bought some briefs that me my ass look hot and my junk huge. I’m usually a boxer man myself.

    3. Listen, they’re going to tell you its pretty painless. The five dudes I know who got vasectomies experienced a lot of pain. Like, two days off work with opiods pain.

      1. I did it on Friday, back to work Monday. Only Tylenol 3 the first day. But then again, I am a MAN damnit!

        1. Same for me. Although I’m not much of a man, it just didn’t hurt that much.

          A co-worker of mine had his reversed, and apparently that’s a whole other story. He was out of commission for quite a while – err I mean totally out of commission, not just where you’d expect to be.

        2. Wow. Maybe I am just around guys who are wimps.

      2. It wasn’t that bad, more uncomfortable than painful and within 3 or 4 days I felt completely normal again

      3. The doctor was pretty straightforward with me. I thought I would be able to drive myself to and from, but the doctor said fuck no. And there was a promise of opioids.

    4. Consult? My wife has assured me it’s a simple snip and stitch job to be done over lunch break.

      1. You know what is funny is it is hard to find a surgeon to do a vasectomy when you are in your mid-twenties, single and childless. I found one, but many won’t do it because your future wife might want kids.

        1. A friend of mine who is married and in his 30s, but childless has looked into it and found that surgeons are hesitant to do it even for him. They seem to want you to have children or be over 40 first.

          1. I thought about screaming “My body, My choice” in his face but then remember my balls would be in his hands.

        2. Yeah. There were lots of questions about my kids, and if my wife knew I was there.

          The consent form has to be witnessed too.

    5. Why would you want to cut your balls off?

      1. because small children really are that terrible.

        1. They’re little hitlers.

          1. You people don’t know how to deal with kids. I’m raising a future libertarian super-militia.

            1. Seriously. My kids are generally awesome to spend time with, much more so than the effin’, so-called adults I have to deal with.

  7. Consequently, I doubt that the U.S. total fertility rate will ever again rise above the replacement rate of 2.1 children.

    Isn’t that a bit dangerous, like wandering into Paul Erlich type extrapolation territory?

    1. Yeah, but Ron will admit it if he turns out to be wrong.

    2. SSWk: I have been explaining for decades now that Ehrlich got it badly wrong. And unlike Ehrlich, if I turn out to be wrong, I will admit it. So far so good.

      1. Whew! I was worried that Coulter had drowned you in your bathtub.

    3. Lets put it this way.

      The events which would likely be required to drive the US fertility rate north of 2.1 stand a VERY good chance of also wiping the US from existence.

      So while it is likely that at some point in the future the total fertility rate in the land mass currently defined as “The US” will rise above 2.1 it is unlikely that it will continue to be known as “The US” by that time.

  8. If I were a young man today, you couldn’t pay me 10 million dollars to father a child in this country. I might consider 100 million, which I would immediately use part of to change my identity and flee the country.

    1. To where? I guess with that money you could find a place where you can do whatever you damn well please.

  9. I blame the Millennials. Nobody wants some worthless unemployable deadbeat bum kid living in the basement until he’s 35.

  10. When I was very young in the late 70s early 80s, the world was going to perish because we were all being to selfish and having too many children.

    Then in the 90s through now the world is going to perish because we are all being selfish and not having enough children.

    Noticing this was a major event for my early 20s self. I realized many people had flipped to the opposite argument without even acknowledging to themselves that they had done it. I started to get skeptical about what I was being told. I ended up a libertarian.

    1. There’s only one argument:

      There is an exact right amount of children to have at any given time, and it’s best that the government decide that for us. And frankly, they might as well decide WHO gets to have those kids too, just to make sure we get quality ones.

    2. When I was young and foolish, I worried about overpopulation. Then I figured out it’s none of my damn business how other people reproduce. If population goes up or down people will adjust and get on with it.
      I’m all for getting rid of stupid policies that discourage people from breeding, but I’d be against those in any case. Public policy shouldn’t have anything to do with trying to encourage or discourage breeding.

  11. But who is going to pay for my health care when I get old?

  12. Good as time as any, Tak Kak is doing his part to keep our numbers up. First child on the way.

  13. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes by 27 years of age, 32 percent of women had received a bachelor’s degree, compared with 24 percent of men.

    Which tells you that nowadays anybody can get a degree as long as you don’t die before 27.

    I know many homemakers with degrees. Fortunately, us Latinos will overwhelm these highly-educated European idiots who want to remain childless, because we like children even when achieving doctorates.

    1. Seems like it tells you that 37% of women and 24% of men can get a degree if they don’t die by 27.

      1. I think they should isolate who gets a bachelor’s degree by 22 in an effort to spot the actual smart people

  14. I’m trying, but the women just aren’t cooperating!

    1. Try fishing with a wider net.

    2. Hey, I’m doing my part.

  15. Birth rates in this country will likely not recover to replacement levels for several generations at least.

    The cost to raise a single child for 1 year is rapidly approaching 1/3rd the median household income. Throw in a second child and you are at or over 50% of that income. Now take out the ~35% of said income that the Feds and States require in taxes and that leaves almost nothing to cover the actual living expenses of the parent(s)

    1. Makes me think that people spend too much on their kids.

      1. Yes well, being YOUR kids kinda requires you to spend more on them than you do on the orphans you have working in the monocle polishing mines

    2. This. I make pretty good money, more than enough to support myself – so I’m trying to save for a house.

      I had to explain to a friend that the reason I’m so vocal about high tax rates, welfare bills, and national debt isn’t because I’m struggling to live paycheck to paycheck.

      It’s because at some point I would like to start a family and it’s getting more and more expensive. And I know that I might not always have a good job, so I might need some money to fall back on.

      Meanwhile, there’s a healthcare bill that’s relying on healthy young people to pay for everyone – young people don’t need money, right? – social security is collapsing, we’re 16 trillion in debt, there’s a student loan bubble, unemployment is high, etc, etc, etc.

      1. we’re 16 trillion in debt

        Ahem. $18T, my friend.

  16. I read a review of Piketty by Deirdre McCluskey last night. Apparently, Piketty is concerned about inequality – specifically in who owns capital. And he thinks that inheritance is one of the main methods families keep control of capital – he’s just rehashing the “means of production” BS.

    Wealthy people, in general, have fewer children, which means that the capital is being consolidated into a smaller and smaller minority with each new generation.

    McCluskey points out that if wealthy people have fewer and fewer children, then eventually they have no children and the inheritance is bequeathed (good word, right?) to a large number of cousins and other relatives.

    1. I suspect that a lot of the capital will be distributed by the useless children of the rich who don’t know how to hold on to the capital.

      1. That was another of her arguments. The children of rich people generally have no idea what to do with money or other wealth – so they lose it.

        She did mention that the Rockefellers were an exception, though even J. Rockefeller’s sister was a dead beat and didn’t work a day in her life.

        1. children of rich people generally have no idea what to do with money or other wealth – so they lose it.

          Did she define ‘rich,” because this doesn’t match my own observations.

          1. I don’t remember that she defined it explicitly. It was a review of Piketty, so she was using Piketty’s definitions for most things.

            I went to a very upper class private school for three years and I’d have to agree with McCluskey. Most of the kids with rich parents went to college to get liberal arts degrees and came back to work for dad’s company.

            Most of them were more intelligent than average, but business sense doesn’t always seem to be passed on genetically.

            1. Most of them were more intelligent than average, but business sense doesn’t always seem to be passed on genetically.

              Most of the kids I knew growing up were taught to manage their wealth. I guess it depends on the person and their parents.

    2. Piketty was on Econtalk not that long ago. While I disagree with him on a lot of things, he was much more rational in discussing his book and his positions than most of his supporters are.

      1. That’s a very low bar. Of course most of his supporters haven’t actually read his book.

      2. McCluskey was applauding him for his attention to detail and for being much more rigorous with his data then most economists in general.

        But, he apparently made some really juvenile errors.

        He doesn’t take into account human capital – so all of his data on capital, and who owns it, is purely based on material ownership, not skills, knowledge, etc.

        There was one instance in his book where he apparently makes the mistake of confusing whether a price point moves along a demand curve, or whether the entire curve shifts – an error that freshman econ majors usually make. And he doesn’t believe in supply side curve shifts.

  17. Educated women /= women with bachelor’s degrees.

    Just remember that Lana (sp?) Dunham has a degree from *Oberlin.*

    1. Nobody said they were well educated.

    2. Where coincidentally she fabricated a rape allegation

  18. There’s a much more basic reason for the steep fall in the US birth rate– our utterly insane divorce policies in the United States, which makes it crazy to even consider getting married or having kids in the US. (Having kids outside of marriage or getting a prenup won’t help you either– prenups are routinely tossed out, and a common-law marriage leads to the same sort of alimony madness that will cripple you just the same.)

    It’s frightening how many of my friends and business associates have been utterly and completely ruined by the USA family courts, even though they were generally high-income earners and model citizens. They lost everything, and I mean EVERYTHING– their homes, reputations, savings, assets, cars, their kids, their careers, businesses.

  19. Everything they’d worked for over decades, liquidated. Some of them even got shipped off to prison when they couldn’t make the ridiculous alimony payments (aka modern slavery), which were far beyond any reasonable estimation of their earning power or their ability to maintain a high income after a peak year. A good number have moved out of the US for good (though not to Canada, the UK or Australia– for some reason, any country that’s inherited the English common law seems to have the same problems, if not to the same insane proportion as the US.)

    Any productive, good-earning and entrepreneurial American, especially a man, who gets married in the USA is basically a fool playing Russian roulette with his very livelihood. Well over half of US marriages dissolve in divorce, and the vast, vast majority are initiated by women who can get them anytime, for any reason– even if their “reason” is to shack up with a younger boy-toy and force the cuckolded husband to pay for it! You can’t predict how a wife will be years after the marriage– our culture, our TV and the groups women form are constantly encouraging them to “aim higher” and reject their “inadequate” husband even if he works his butt off for her and the kids’ well-being.

  20. This happened to my old college buddy, a model husband and devoted Dad by any measure. He had to work 60 to 80 hour weeks to build up his career in architecture, but after years of hard work and entrepreneurial efforts, he had a thriving firm and provided very well for his family. But his wife decided that his long hours (in support of her lifestyle no less) made her “deserving” of a younger, more strapping gigolo for her own pleasure. (And no, there was no indication in any way that she’d do something like this earlier in their marriage– she seemed to be a decent Christian wife and mother before, but her friends convinced her that she “deserved better”.)

    So she began sleeping around with a guy from her gym, left her husband and then filed for divorce, taking the house that he had worked and paid for, taking his car and forcing *him* to pay alimony permanently. His business suffered in the recession and he couldn’t make the payments, so the family court sent him to prison for contempt. That’s how the US divorce courts work– utter BS, with parasites from divorce lawyers to the family court judges to greedy, non-working ex-spouses siphoning good Americans dry.

  21. He eventually just called BS and transferred his business to France (where he’d had some associates) and is starting his career anew there, commuting between France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and the Nordic countries, and occasionally even to South America (Argentina and Brazil) and parts of Asia. Whatever other problems these places may have, they have far saner divorce laws than anything in the US or other countries with an at-least partial English common law tradition, which basically seems to attract a big parasitic flock to profit from it. (And actually the taxes in Europe are about the same as or a bit lower than the US contrary to what we often hear– the US just tends to hide its various forms of taxes better under many different names, federal levels and fees.)

  22. Younger Americans and esp. men have inevitably seen these sorts of divorce wipe-outs and they’re avoiding marriage and childbearing in the US like a plague. Or, for those who do really want to get married, they’re simply leaving the USA and going elsewhere where they won’t lose their shirts. American divorce laws basically put productive, educated Americans in a position that makes it dangerous to even consider getting married, which is the underlying reason for reduced American fertility rates. This may be why Obama amnestied so many illegals recently (albeit with the tacit support of Senate RINO’s like McCain, Graham, Rubio, Hatch, Kirk and Ayotte), he figures the illegals (by taking advantage of the welfare the rest of us are paying for) can help to make up for the shortfall for births in the native population. Unfortunately, the rest of us are being squeezed so badly, and seeing the ruin of US divorce, that even the relatively higher birth rate of the illegals won’t make even a small dent in the plummeting birth rate of the USA overall.

  23. Huh. I figured everyone would just chalk it up to Internet porn. That and “youth culture” media that makes living like a college student look like a lot of fun.

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