The long decline in the U.S. birthrate continues. 2020 saw the fewest babies born relative to the population of women between 15 and 44 of any year in American history. A recent Pew poll found the fraction of non-parents between 18 and 49 saying they were “very likely” to have kids fell from 32 percent in 2018 to 26 percent this year, while the fraction saying they were “not too likely” or “not at all likely” increased from 37 percent to 44 percent.
There are strong reasons to think these trends will only escalate. Absent major changes, in the next decade or two, the American population is likely going to start falling fast.
For many years, the U.S. had a weirdly high birth rate relative to peer nations, especially given how our horrible welfare state made parenthood exceptionally expensive. As I explained some years back, this was largely because of teen pregnancy and immigration from other countries with higher birthrates. But all that is ended now. Teen pregnancy has been falling steadily for decades, and birthrates in America’s main sources of immigrants are also declining.
Now, it’s important to note that fertility has fallen across the world, even in countries with ultra-generous welfare states for parents. This surely has something to do with changing norms for what people expect in marriage, a general decline in social connections of all kinds, and feminist liberation of women from repressive traditional gender roles (a good thing, to be clear).
Categories: American Decline