For the first time in almost a decade, there has been a significant change in population growth due to the American birth rate increasing last year.
Prior to 2021, there had been over a seven year decline in the national birth rate, reaching its historically low point at just 3.8% in 2020. This rate actually marked the lowest national birth rate since 1979.
The National Center for Health Statistics released data showing how in 2021, there were 3,659,289 births, which equals about a 1% increase in the birth rate since 2020, not to mention that this was the first time the birth rate increased since 2014.
Teenage birthrate, so women aged between 15-19 having a child, also declined about 6% last year to an average 14.4 per every 1,000 women.
“Birth rates declined for women in age groups 15–24, rose for women in age groups 25–49,” reported the agency.
Additionally, national birth rates increased for women ages 25-29 (2%), ages 30-34 (3%), 35-39 (5%), and 40-44 (3%).
Beginning in 2014, the national birth rate was declining by about 2% each year, which equated to “below replacement” levels, meaning Americans were not having enough children to help maintain the population level.
“When the fertility rate falls below replacement level, the population grows older and shrinks, which can slow economic growth and strain government budgets,” reported FiveThirtyEight in June of 2020. “Today’s babies are tomorrow’s workers and taxpayers: They’ll not only staff the hospitals and nursing homes we’ll use in old age but also sustain the economy by funding our pensions when we retire, paying the taxes that finance Social Security, Medicare, and many other government programs we’ll rely on, and buying the homes and stocks we invested in to build our savings.”
That being said, the U.S. birth rate has consistently been below population replacement levels since about 2007.
The year of 2007 was significant since it marked the onset of the 2007-2008 financial crisis with the collapse of the housing market which caused damage to financial institutions and the major recession. Due to the economic uncertainty, many Americans made the decision to delay or not have children altogether.
Following that period of time, the birth rate has not recovered since and birth rates have declined by a total of 28% over the past 14 years.
More recently, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic stopped people from having children as well, which only further contributed to the declining birth rate, which actually fell by 4% between 2019-2020 alone.
In fact, the U.S. was not the only country to witness a decline in birth rate as a result of the pandemic.
“Poland recorded 355,000 births in 2020, about 20,000 fewer than in 2019 (a 5.3% decline) and the lowest total since 2003, while Italy saw a decline of more than 10% in December,” reports ABC News.
As a result, many European countries have made attempts to incentivize citizens to have children due to the below replacement level birth rates.
Italy offered couples an €800 payment per birth to little success. On the other hand, Russia offered first-time mothers maternity benefits previously only given to women with two or more children as well as tax breaks for bigger families. Hungary pushed a new law in 2019 that promised families with four or more children would not pay income tax and created thousands of new openings at childcare centers. Additionally, grandparents could be eligible for childcare payments if they took care of children for parents.