The U.S. Birth Rate Is at Its Lowest in 35 Years

Illustration for article titled The U.S. Birth Rate Is at Its Lowest in 35 Years

The birth rate across the U.S. fell to its lowest point in 35 years last year, and experts think that the coronavirus pandemic may cause it to fall even more. What, people don’t want to bring a child into a world on the brink of economic collapse in a country governed by a pickled ham? You don’t say.

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The new statistics were released by the CDC, and though considered preliminary, they’re based on a review of more than 99 percent of birth certificates issued last year.

“This unpredictable environment, and anxiety about the future, is going to make women think twice about having children,” Dr. Denise Jamieson, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Emory University, told the AP.

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No shit! Turns out, women aren’t super into the idea of having kids they’d have to struggle to afford:

The economy is a factor, but not because of short-term cycles in hiring. Many jobs are low-paying and unstable, and that coupled with high rents and other factors have caused women and couples to be much more cautious about having kids, said Dr. John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health.

Darkly, scientists are divided on whether or not the trend will continue as coronavirus stretches on. Not necessarily because everyone is going to be happily copulating in their quarantine nests, but because access to birth control and abortion has become more difficult.

Mostly, however, the debate isn’t whether birth rates will go down—it’s whether they’ll ever go back up again.

Night blogger at Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

We live in a country run by wealthy, older, mostly white men. It’s beyond their comprehension that people are quitting their jobs because childcare literally costs more than many people take home in a year. It’s beyond their comprehension that, by the time many couples have the income and stability to afford children, they’d need an extra $10-20K for fertility treatments just to get pregnant. It’s beyond their comprehension that people can’t afford unpaid FMLA leave to spend with their child. I could go on. None of it will change until there is generational change and more diverse representation in government.

Beyond that, it always irks me that these articles present delayed fertility as the result of women’s choices. In addition to the structural factors, why don’t we discuss the fact that many men are also not looking to start families until their 30s?