The number of births in the US has continued to decline — repeating a decades-long trend — as nearly half of American women under 45 are childless, according to a new study.
About 52% of women between the ages of 15 to 44 gave birth between 2015 to 2019 — a drop from nearly 55% in the prior four-year period, according to the study published by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics Tuesday.
The number of biological fathers in the same age range also dipped. From 2015 to 2019, about 40% of men had fathered a child — compared to about 44% during 2011 to 2015.
The number of babies each woman is birthing decreased as well and more and more women are putting off childbearing to later in life.
On average, US women had only 1.3 children in 2019 — the latest year of data included in the report. For men, that number was just 0.9 kids.
The study’s authors credit several reasons for the trends, including women obtaining higher levels of education as well as greater and longer career paths. The authors cited changing family values, financial concerns, improved access to contraception and relationship instability as additional reasons.
The number of women who have their first child at age 35 or older increased in 2019 — continuing earlier trends. Between 1972 and 2021, the number rose nine-fold, according to the report.
The delay in childbearing has had positive impacts on women, but can come with fertility issues, according to the report.
“Having a first child at older ages has been associated with a positive impact on women’s wages and career paths, in addition to having a positive impact on their children because
they are more likely to have parents with greater family and economic stability,” the authors wrote.
“A potential negative consequence of delayed childbearing is that women are attempting to have children when their fecundity (ability to have children) is declining.”
The study also found that births outside of marriage have jumped upwards as well.
By 2019, roughly half of first births happened before marriage — and half of those were between couples who lived together.