U.S. Birth Rates Are Dropping As People Delay Marriage and Sperm Quality Declines

Many people are delaying having children, which is contributing to the lower rate of births in America. Cole Bennetts/Getty Images

Fertility rates have declined, which has caused a mini panic, as Mother Jones and The Daily Beast have reported, with the latter saying it's "a huge problem." Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control updated its website with provisional estimates for this year, indicating that yes, there are indeed fewer births.

Related: Should Men Worry About Their Own Biological Clock?

According to the CDC, there were 61 births for the second quarter of 2017. The World Bank, which also tracks fertility rates internationally, shows that it has gradually declined after 1960, when total fertility rates measured in births per woman was at 3.654. Currently, the World Bank estimates the fertility rate at 1.843, for the end of 2015.

Mother Jones compiled a chart looking at fertility rates since 1975 and found that it declined following the recession in 2008. In 2013, the data appeared to level out a bit before declining again.

Of course, there are many causes for the decline in these figures, one being that many women are waiting to have kids. This summer, the CDC released a report showing that more women in their 40s were having children than in previous years, while fewer teens were getting pregnant. Many stories have reported that women are putting off having children in favor of their careers.

Also, as the New York Times reported last year, the recession appeared to make some people put off having kids as their financial futures appeared murky.


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"There's been a rapid increase in delay since 2009, which is apparently due to the recession," Sociologist Hans-Peter Kohler of the University of Pennsylvania, told the paper. "When the economic picture is uncertain, people hold off all sorts of commitments, and having children is one of them.

And delaying child birth also impacts how many children it's possible to have as a woman's reproductive ability does decline with age. "One possible consequence is that as you delay the birth of the first child, the possibility of having three or more children becomes problematic," Brady Hamilton, statistician at the National Center for Health Statistics, told the New York Times. "So the longer you postpone, the more potential you have for smaller families and smaller population growth."

However, it's not just delaying one's entrance into parenthood that's causing the decline, those who want children may not be able to. As Newsweek previously reported in September, male sperm count has decreased, and the problem is not just in America. Researchers are still looking for the source of the decline, but theorize that air pollution, obesity and stress could be potential culprits.