Fertility Rates Increased in the U.S. For The First Time Since the Great Recession

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Birth rates have increased in the U.S. for the first time in seven years when the country was in recession. JIM BOURG/Reuters

In 2014, the miracle of childbirth occurred nearly 4 million times in the U.S., a 1 percent rise since 2013, according to data released this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the first time in seven years that fertility rates have increased in the country. The report is based on all birth certificate records in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

According to the report, there were 62.9 U.S. births per 1,000 women age 15 to 44 in 2014, and overall fertility rate in the U.S. increased by 1 percent between 2013 and 2014. In 2007, that number was 69.5 per 1,000, and had been in decline since then—until this year. The decrease in birth rates starting in 2008 coincided with the economic downturn and high rates of unemployment. Some experts believe more couples are choosing parenthood now that the economy appears to be improving.

The data from the recent report back up the observation that moms in the U.S. are getting older, putting off marriage and baby-making in their 20s and choosing to start families at least a decade later—if not more. The birth rate for millennials dropped 2 percent between 2013 and 2014. Overall the rates of births among women in their twenties has steadily declined since 2007 by more than 4 percent a year. Birth rates increased by 3 percent among women in their 30s and 2 percent for women in their 40s between 2013 and 2014.

There were also fewer birth that occurred out of wedlock, and the authors of the report say this is partially because women are becoming mothers at a later point in life when they are more likely to be married. The nonmarital birth rate declined 1 percent in 2014, to 44 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 to 44. This was the sixth consecutive year of decline in nonmarital births. Teen pregnancy also declined, and now appears to be at an all-time low; the number of births for teens ages 15 to 19 went down 9 percent between 2013 and 2014.  

The report also provided a few positive observations on how the youngest Americans are entering the world. For some time, women’s health advocates in the U.S. have bemoaned the rates of births by cesarean section, which many say is an overutilized procedure that presents health risks for the baby and mother and prolongs post-labor recovery. The good news is the data show this method of delivery declined from 32.7 percent in 2013 to 32.2 percent in 2014. That’s a 2 percent drop and the lowest rates of C-section since 2007. Additionally, birth records indicate a drop in rates of premature births by 8 percent since 2007.