Americans are having fewer babies than ever before.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed Americans aren’t having enough babies to replace themselves.
For the population to sustain itself at current numbers, the “total fertility rate” needs to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age over their lifetime. The latest data shows a rate of 1,765.5 per 1,000 women, which is 16% below the number needed to keep the population stable.
The fertility rate has been dropping since 2010, but the latest numbers represent the biggest drop in recent history.
“I think the concern is — and there is a concern — is having a fertility rate that doesn’t allow us in effect to perpetuate our society,” American Public Health Association’s Dr. Georges Benjamin told CNN. “But we may very well over start seeing this reversed of flattened out, but that remains to be seen.
According to Dr. John Rowe at Columbia University, one important factor in this fluctuation is the changing roles of women in society.
“In general, women are getting married later in life,” he explained. “They are leaving the home and launching their families later.”
Experts say other factors including student loan debt, paid leave policies, and high child care costs have an impact on the decrease in births.