US births fall, and Coronavirus could drive them down more.
U.S. births dropped to the lowest level in 35 years.
About 3.75 million babies were born in the U.S. in 2019, down 1% from 2018, according to provisional data released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control.
The total fertility rate in 2019 was 1,705 births per 1,000 women — well below the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself (2,100 births per 1,000 women). The total fertility rate has been below the replacement since 2007.
“In the long run low fertility might mean the population will grow smaller, but it takes a generation or two,” said Philip Cohen, professor at the University of Maryland. “During the pandemic, I would expect pregnancy rates, and then birth rates, to fall as people interact less and postpone making long-term commitments and investments.”
“Financial constraints are a factor in the continuing low levels of fertility,” according to Ken Johnson, professor at the University of New Hampshire. “In addition, these fertility declines have been greatest most among younger women (under age 30) and it is unclear whether these births have been delayed or will be foregone.”
“In the short term, there is little likelihood of an upturn in fertility in the shadow of the pandemic. In fact, I have every expectation that the number of births will diminish in 2021, said Johnson.“
Professor Cohen agrees. “People interact less and postpone making long-term commitments and investments” during the pandemic, said Cohen, adding that he does “not see any reason for birth rates to be rising anytime soon.”