Guess What? Americans Aren’t Having Enough Babies

Well, here's some news you probably didn't expect to hear today: It is now being reported that Americans aren't having enough babies to replace the current population. 

Are you surprised? I know that I am. As a mom of four kids, I have constantly been told that I am ruining the world with my overpopulating uterus, so this news comes as a stark contrast to what I thought the future would hold. According to the latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the latest data from the U.S shows a birth rate of 1,765.5 per 1,000. While that may sound like an impressive number, it's not: it's actually 16 percent less than the number needed to keep the U.S. population stable (not including population additions through immigration or adoption). The “magical” number to replace the current population is a fertility rate of 2,100 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age over their lifetime, according to the CDC, so as you can see, the numbers just aren't there at the moment. Boiled down, you roughly need a 2:1 ratio to replace a current population.

Image via Unsplash John-Mark Smith

Apparently, of all the states in the country, only Utah and South Dakota are popping out enough kids to meet the rate needed for replacement. (I'm assuming it's not a coincidence that the Mormon-heavy population with their trends of big families and mommy blogs is pulling their rank!) The news is not new news, however, as the trend towards a lower birth rate is one that has been happening for a number of years in a row; this latest report marks the lowest birth rate North America has seen in a long, long time. 

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So just why is the birth rate so low? Well, experts cite a number of reasons that include: lower teen pregnancy rates, thanks to more sex education programs, more contraceptive availability and choices, economics, less women choosing to have children at all, more women waiting until they are older to start having families, which means more limited fertility and smaller family sizes, and a general trend towards smaller families no matter what the age of the mother. The trend is also in line with most of the developing countries in the world, as they inch towards smaller and smaller families, or opt out of having families all together. The Independent reported in 2017 that only half of the world's 244 countries actually meet the replacement threshold. 

In response to the news, many women and current mothers expressed pretty much the opposite of disbelief, citing the current state of the world as “scary” and pointing to how difficult it is to successfully parent in the United States, thanks to inaccessible and less-than-affordable maternity care, insurance, and child care. “American Maternity care sucks,” commented one woman on a Facebook post. “Most women are not comfortable with the high mother mortality rates. After almost dying with my first due to doctor negligence, having another isn't in the cards for me.” “If policy improved to support families maybe we would have more children,” observed another woman. 

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Some also see the news as welcome, commenting that the world is already overpopulated enough and that a lower population will be a boon to future generations who can focus on making the world a better place instead of sucking it dry of resources. But other countries that have faced declining birth rates for years have already taken drastic measures to try to encourage couples to have more children. For instance, South Korea declared the third Wednesday of every month as “family day” and shuts the lights off around town at 7 PM, presumably to encourage the mood. Not only that, it offers cash incentives to couples after they have a first child. Italy is so desperate to add more youth to its declining population after a series of failed ad attempts meant to guilt-trip people into having more kids that it's considering giving families who have a third child free land. Or you have Russia, which made a national holiday called “Day of Conception” and literally gave people the day off to try to get busy with it — and then, any woman who was successful in conceiving is gifted a free fridge 9 months later. 

I mean, if that's not encouragement to have another baby, I don't know what it is. 

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What do you think of the latest news on the low U.S. birth rate: good or bad news? 

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Guess What? Americans Aren’t Having Enough Babies

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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