US birth rate rises for first time in seven years

allanswart/iStock via Getty Images

The number of births in the United States rose for the first time in seven years to 3.66 million, up 1% from 2020, according to preliminary statistics from the National Center for Health statistics.

However, the number of births has been on a general downward trend since around 2007. Since 2014, the number of births has decreased by an average of 2% per year from 2014 to 2020, and by 4% from 2019 to 2020.

The number of births is important because economic growth depends primarily on the size of the US population and improvements in productivity. And the pandemic has limited the immigration of people from other parts of the world entering the United States

The general fertility rate was 56.6 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44, up 1% from 2020, and like the total number of births, it was the first increase since 2014 .

The synthetic fertility index (“ISF”) was 1,663.5 births per 1,000 women, up 1% year-on-year. That’s still below the replacement rate of 2,100 births per 1,000 women, or the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself, the CDC said. The TFR has generally remained below replacement since 1971 and consistently below replacement since 2007, according to CDC data. The ISF estimates the number of births a hypothetical group of 1,000 women would have in their lifetime, based on the age-specific birth rate in a given year.

As for immigration, only 247,000 people, net of emigration, moved to the United States in the year ending July 1, 2021, the most recent year for which data were available, according to the US Census Bureau. That’s down from 477,000 between 2019 and 2020, which overlapped with the onset of COVID-19. In the previous decade, immigration reached 1.05 million between 2015 and 2016.

The birth rate, however, turned out to be better than some predicted at the start of the pandemic. Some economists have predicted that the health crisis and economic shock will lead to a drop of 300,000 to 500,000 births in 2021. Phillip Levine, professor of economics at Wellesley College, told the the wall street journal that a rebound in the labor market and government fiscal support that boosted household spending helped avoid a larger drop in births in the event of the pandemic.

2021 was the first year since 1937 that the US population grew by less than 1 million, the Census Bureau said. In 2019, the United States population growth rate hit its slowest pace in 100 years.

Find out why SA contributor Daniel Moser calls the 2022-2026 outlook for babywear maker Carter’s (CRI) “conservative but constructive.”