Fertility rates in the U.S. have dropped by more than half over recent decades, and are not enough to replace a generation, according to a new report from the CDC.
During the baby boom following World War II, the total fertility rate — or the expected number of births a woman would have over a lifetime — peaked at 3.77 births per woman in 1957, according to the CDC report released late last week.
The total fertility rate then began to decline, and dropped from 2.91 in 1965 with Generation X to 1.84 in 1980.
Since 1971 — with the exception of the years 2006 and 2007 — the total fertility rate has not been high enough enough to replace a generation, the CDC said. In 2018, the number hit an all-time low of 1.73.
Dr. Zev Williams, director of Columbia University Fertility Center, said in an email to the Daily News the drop in fertility rates is a “mixed picture” due to a number of factors — but questions remain as to why exactly that drop exists.
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“Data from the CDC show that the US is seeing a mixed picture with an increase in the birth rate for women over age 35 and a decrease in the birth rate in women 25 and younger,” Williams said.
He said the decrease in birth rates of women 25 and under and the increased rates in women 35 and older “may reflect the decision of women to delay childbearing coupled with improving success with fertility treatment.”
Despite the data, it is still unclear why exactly he number has been on the decline, Williams said.
“The data is showing us the ‘what’, but the ‘why’ question is left unanswered,” Williams told The News.