Health

U.S. birth rate rises 1 percent, Ends steady decline


The birth rate in the United States rose slightly last year, ending a steady decline since 2014, the federal government reported Tuesday.

There will be 3,659,289 births in 2021, an increase of about 46,000, or 1% from 2020, when the drop is sharp, according to interim data published by the National Vital Statistics System, part of the Center Disease Control and Prevention.

According to Phillip Levine, an economist at Wellesley University who has studied recent birth trends, the increase can be attributed to parents making peace with the conditions of life during the pandemic.

According to his analysis, during the first Covid-19 lockdown in the spring of 2020, there was a sharp decline in the concept of giving birth. (Despite frequent speculation, there is usually no baby boom for nine months after blizzards, power outages, and other one-off events that leave couples home alone and alone. boring.)

But by the summer of 2020, notions have increased, as unemployment falls and government benefits reach families. And as the pandemic continues, local Infection rates don’t seem to have much of an impact on people’s decisions to have children.

“Our acceptance of the Covid environment is increasing,” said Professor Levine.

However, not all women are equally confident in giving birth during a pandemic. While the birth rate rose 2% for white and Hispanic women, it fell by 2% to 3% for black, Asian, and Native American women.

The fertility rate fell to a record low for teenagers and 2% for women aged 20 to 24. Women in their 30s, who are more likely to get married and financially stable Young women have the highest increase in birth rates.

One of them is Michaela Howard, 35, of Richmond, Va. She and her husband, both professionals in the nonprofit sector, welcomed their first child, Henry, in November 2021, after seven years of marriage and some debate over whether the Is parenting something? they wish.

“One of the biggest hesitations for me and my husband has always been climate change and the kind of world we are putting a child in,” Ms. Howard said. Then the pandemic hit. For months, the couple felt as if life had “stagnated”.

But at the beginning of 2021, with Covid-19 vaccinations about to be rolled out, they chose to stay optimistic and conceive. “I felt it was going to be something that would bring me joy in my life, and would otherwise turn down that opportunity myself,” she said.

CDC data shows 10% of babies are born prematurely by 2021, the highest rate since 2007. For the second year in a row, the rate of cesarean deliveries has increased slightly, to 32%.

The increase in fertility has not changed the overall demographic picture of the country. Since 2007, fertility has been in free fall. And although the birth rate has increased in 2021, it is still lower than in 2019. Many parents are choosing to have only one child.

“I wouldn’t get too excited about this,” said Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire. “That’s actually a very modest increase.”

Experts debate why American women have had so few children over the past 15 years. Millennials have experienced young adulthood in the midst of two crises that may have affected their desire or ability to raise children: the pandemic and the Great Recession, which began in 2007, and around the time the birth rate begins to decline. Many millennials are saddled with student loans and the high costs of housing and childcare.

Professor Johnson likened the experience to living through the Great Recession, which caused a drastic drop in the number of babies born.

However, social scientists say they are increasingly looking at another explanation for low fertility – a broad, international shift in young women’s attitudes and goals. More and more women are choosing to prioritize education and work, marrying later, and having few or no children.

A recent paper by Professor Levine and colleagues found no evidence to link the state’s birth rate with childcare costs, student debt or housing costs. The paper also demonstrates that in high-income countries with much more extensive social safety nets than the United States, fertility has long been much lower than replacement fertility at 2.1 children/ women. Policies aimed at promoting fertility have had only modest, short-term effects.

The decline in American fertility seems to be following the path of countries like Japan, Britain and Sweden.

The lower birth rate raises questions about long-term national economic growth. There will be fewer working adults to fund programs like Social Security and Medicare.

“The simplest solution to the problem is to increase immigration,” Professor Levine said.

“It’s politically absurd,” he said. “In a world where you have to live with a lower birth rate,” he added, “you have to think about investing more effectively in the education system and in the infrastructure that will drive us forward. Becoming a society doesn’t just come from more people. “



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