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US birth rate stays flat, below replacement

By MAY ZHOU in Houston | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-06-02 10:40
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The US birth rate in 2022 remained stagnant compared with 2021 and did not return to its pre-pandemic level, according to provisional data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday.

The number of births in the United States in 2022 was 3.66 million, a nonsignificant decline of about 3,000 births from 2021. That means the birth rate was essentially unchanged from 2021.

The CDC said that the number of births declined by an average of 2 percent per year from 2014 through 2020, including a decline of 4 percent from 2019 through 2020, followed by a 1 percent increase from 2020 to 2021.

Overall, the total fertility rate for 2022 was 1,665 births per 1,000 women. The total fertility rate estimates the number of births that a hypothetical group of 1,000 women would have over their lifetimes, based on the age-specific birth rate in a given year.

As a result, the total fertility rate in 2022 remained at below replacement — the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself (2,100 births per 1,000 women or 2.1). The CDC said that the rate has been consistently below replacement since 2007.

The CDC data also showed that the teenage birth rate was down by 3 percent in 2022 from 2021, the lowest on record since 1991. Between 1991 and 2022, teenage births declined by 78 percent.

Women ages 25-34 have the highest birth rate, which remained steady in 2022 from 2021.

In 1990, the relatively younger group of women ages 20-24 had a birth rate almost doubling that of the older group of women age 35-39. However, the younger group’s birth rate has been trending down, while the older group has been trending up.

In 2022, the gap was close, at 60.4 per 1,000 for women ages 20-24, and 54.9 per 1,000 for women ages 35-39. If the trend continues, the older group might surpass the younger group.

General fertility rates declined 2 percent for black women and 3 percent for American Indian women and white women, and rose 3 percent for Asian women, 6 percent for Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women, and 4 percent for Hispanic women from 2021 to 2022, CDC data showed.

Births by white women accounted for half of the total births in 2022, followed by Hispanic women at about 25 percent, black women at 14 percent, and Asian women at almost 6 percent.

The US, with a birth rate of 1.7, isn’t the only developed country where the rate is below the population replacement rate of 2.1.

In Asia for 2022, South Korea had the world’s lowest birth rate of 0.78. Japan was at 1.2, and China was at 1.18.

Many European countries also face population declines, with Italy experiencing the lowest birth rate among them. In 2022, Italy’s birth rate hit a record low at 1.25. The birth rate in France ranked the highest in the European Union, but was still below the replacement rate at 1.6.

In contrast, populations in some of the developing countries are trending up. Many African countries have high birth rates, with Niger at the top with a rate of 6.9.

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