White American Births Below Replacement Level in Every State
The U.S. birth rate remains well below the replacement level needed – at least 2.1 children per woman so as not to experience population decreases – as white American births plummet in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
New federal data released Thursday by the Center for Disease Control reveals that American women are having less and less children, below the rate needed to sustain the current population. In 2017, all but two states in the country had birth rates below replacement level.
In 2017, among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, total fertility rates ranged from a rate of 2,227.5 births per 1,000 women in South Dakota to 1,421 per 1,000 women in DC, a difference of 57%, according to the report.
States like California, New York, Wyoming, West Virginia, and Washington, DC, saw the lowest birth rates in the country. For example, Washington, DC, had a birth rate of only about 1.7, far below the 2.1 level needed to replace the metro area’s population.
The total U.S. birth rate was about 1.765 children per woman, which was 16% below what is considered the level needed for a population to replace itself: 2,100 births per 1,000 women.
The report also showed differences in total fertility rates by race.
In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, white women had birth rates below replacement level. The highest birth rate among women were those living in Utah, where the white birth rate was about 2.0 children per woman.
Non-Hispanic black women in the U.S. only had above replacement level birth rates in 12 states while Hispanic women had the largest share of birth rates throughout the states. Births among Hispanic women were above replacement level in 29 states.
Yet, in general, “although nearly all states lack a (total fertility rate) that indicates their total population will increase due to births, these results demonstrate that there is variation in fertility patterns within states among groups according to race and Hispanic origin,” the researchers wrote in the report.
The U.S. is now less than half of what it was in the 1950’s. Based on data from the National Center for Heath Statistics released last year, U.S. birth rates appeared to hit a “record low” in 2017, when the number of births nationwide was at its lowest in three decades.
Between 2007 (the year of the record number of births – 4,316,233) and 2017 (about 3,853,472 babies were born nationally), total fertility rates in the United States fell 12% in rural counties, 16% in suburban counties and 18% in large metro counties, according to a separate CDC data brief released in October.
Between 1955 and 1960, the U.S. birth rate peaked with nearly 3.6 children being born per woman. Demographers predict, based on current trends, that the U.S. birth rate will remain below replacement level into the year 2100.
“We have been seeing fertility rates go down, and I think it has a lot to do with women and men, couples in particular, having much more control over their reproductive lives,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, who was not involved in the new report.
When considering rates over larger periods of time, “remember that we’re coming off of a peak of the baby boom generation. So it’s also being tracked from that very high baby boom that we had after World War II, and so you’re really looking at reductions from that high,” Benjamin said.
“I think the concern is — and there is a concern — is having a fertility rate that doesn’t allow us in effect to perpetuate our society,” he said. “But we may very well over time start seeing this reversed or flattened out, but that remains to be seen.”