More Good News: U.S. Teen Birth Rate Continues to Fall

U.S. total fertility rate close to lowest ever too


James Steidl/Dreamstime

Back in 1991, the U.S. teen birth rate was 61.8 per 1,000 females between the ages of 15 and 19. It began dropping and reached 41.5 per 1,000 in 2007. The decline picked up and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports today that the teen birth rate is down to 21.8 per 1,000. Some analysts suggest that this drop results, in part, from the fallout of the Great Recession and perhaps also because of increased access to contraception by teens.

The CDC is also reporting the U.S. general fertility rate has dropped back to its all time low of 62.5 children per 1,000 American women ages 15 to 44 years. In fact, the general fertility rate for the first quarter of 2016 is 59.8 children per 1,000. A rough calculation using the latest CDC data finds that the U.S. total fertility rate now averages 1.84 children over the course of an American woman's lifetime. The total fertility rate is an estimate of lifetime fertility, based upon present fertility patterns. Demographers generally set population replacement at a total fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman.

The lowest total fertility rate in the U.S. was 1.74 children per woman in 1976. These statistics are good news in the sense that people are apparently freer to determine when they want to give birth and how many children they want to have.

Pew 2015