U.S. Fertility Falling Short of What Women Want


Demographic Intelligence’s senior advisor, Lyman Stone, comments on recent articles in The New York Times and Politico magazine providing four factors that are driving the recent fall in births.


Writing in The New York Times, the economist Lyman Stone predicts that U.S. births fell to 3.84 million births in 2017, down from about 3.95 million in 2016. Stone was drawing upon research from Demographic Intelligence’s new 2018 U.S. Fertility Forecast. Stone, who serves as an advisor to Demographic Intelligence, also noted that the U.S. total fertility rate fell to 1.77 lifetime births per woman in 2017. Such low fertility is below what women in the United States want. What’s driving the decline in United States births?

The team of demographers and family scholars at Demographic Intelligence identify four factors driving the recent fall in births:

1) The share of unmarried women using long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) is up, from 1.5 percent LARC usage in 2002 to 7.2 percent in 2011-2013.

2) Young adult sex in America is down. The share of young adults (18-30) who did not have sex in the last year rose from about 10 percent in the early 2000s to 18 percent in 2014-2016, according to a recent Politico article co-authored by DI President Samuel Sturgeon and Bradford Wilcox, also an advisor to Demographic Intelligence.

3) Marriage rates have been falling among adults, which is important because married women have higher fertility rates than unmarried women. The share of adults 18-64 who are married fell from 54.2 percent in 2010 to 48.6 percent in 2016.

4) Finally, immigration rates have been declining, especially in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and President Donald Trump’s policies. Demographic Intelligence analysis indicates that births are now down more among foreign-born women than native-born women.

“The decline in U.S. births since 2014 is surprising, given that the economy has been improving,” said Demographic Intelligence president Samuel Sturgeon. “But changes in young adult relationships, sexual practices, and contraception usage appear to be pushing births downwards. Moreover, the Trump Administration’s policies are also discouraging immigration, which has an impact on births.”

“The big question is: When will the decline in births come to an end?” added Sturgeon. “We address this question in the latest edition of The U.S. Fertility Forecast.

For more on recent trends in U.S. births, see the Demographic Intelligence research cited in the following articles:



Or visit: http://www.demographicintel.com


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