Born in the U.S.A.
Recently I wrote about The Falling Fertility of Europe. Now it is the turn of the United States. The U.S. has one of the highest fertility rates in the West. The most recently available fertility statistics from the government are for 2006. Take a look at the table below and then join me in a discussion of what some of the numbers may mean. In the table below Birth rate refers to live births per 1,000 population. Teen birth rate is live births to women aged 15-19 per 1,000 of women aged 15-19 in the population. Fertility rate is live births per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years. The TFR (Total Fertility Rate) of a population is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime. Bear in mind that the replacement fertility rate is roughly 2.1 births per woman for most industrialized countries.
Highs and Lows
By sorting the TFR column we can see that 25 states have a Total Fertility Rate of 2.1 or higher. This is the replacement rate of the population. Of course because of immigration the population is increasing. Through the sort we can also see that Vermont has the lowest TFR and Utah the highest. Why is this? In Utah the high birth rate is undoubtedly due to the high percentage of Mormons in the state, who tend to have larger families. Vermont’s low birth rate, according to the Times Argus, is attributed to its racial homogeneity and high education levels among women — factors not easily changed by government intervention. Hispanic women, who comprise less than one percent of the state’s population, statistically have higher birth rates.
The Problem of Low Birth Rates
Consider what the Vermont Governor Douglas has to say:
Employers cite adequacy of the workforce as one major concern for future success here. We have employers who have created good jobs and want to create more, but they need a qualified workforce to take those jobs.
In the last year the number of people in Vermont’s workforce fell by 2,000. The low birth rate is a component of a much bigger problem. The median age of Vermont’s workforce, at 42.3 years old, is the highest in the nation. In the next twenty years the workforce is expected to shrink annually as those wage-earners reach retirement age. Because surrounding states also have low birth rates the competition for a shrinking pool of workers will become intense.
United States 2006 Fertility Rates by State
Click ONCE on column headers to sort.
|State||Birth rate||Teen birth rate||Fertility rate||TFR|
|District of Columbia||14.7||48.4||58.4||1.70|
Higher Teen Birth Rates
2006 saw significant increases of teen birth rates in 26 states. My table doesn’t show previous year’s statistics but an article in USA Today has a useful map comparing 2005 with 2006. Some blame the increase on a more sexualized culture and greater acceptance of births to unmarried women. Others say abstinence-only sex education and a possible de-emphasis on birth control may play a part. According to USA Today, Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, says she is less inclined to believe abortion is driving higher teen birth rates and suggests that increases in high-profile unmarried births in Hollywood, movies and even politics is a significant factor for impressionable teens. Sarah says:
In the last couple of years, we had Jamie Lynn Spears. We had Juno and we had Bristol Palin. Those three were in 2007 and 2008 and not in 2005 to 2006, but they point to that phenomenon.
Total Fertility Rate Details
The TFR was 2.1 births per woman in 2006, a two percent increase compared with 2005 (2.05) and the highest reported since 1971 (2.27). This is the first year the U.S. TFR has been above replacement since 1971. From 1990 to 1997, the TFR decreased substantially (from 2.08 to 1.97), but has generally increased since 1998. The increase in the TFR in 2006 reflects the increase in birth rates for nearly all age groups, especially for those women aged 15–19 and 20–24 years. The TFR also increased for nearly all race and Hispanic origin groups between 2005 and 2006 with the rate increasing 1 percent for non-Hispanic white, 3 percent for Hispanic, and 5 percent for non-Hispanic black women. (Source: National Center for Health Statistics PDF)
If not for immigration, the U.S. population would merely be replacing itself. In future years the birth rates will likely be declining, along with world birth rates in general. Because many have been indoctrinated with the “population explosion” myth it will be difficult to convince sufficient numbers that there is even a problem with low birth rates. What is required is an emphasis on family and the preciousness of children. Governments need to be friendly towards traditional marriage and encourage all to support family life.
This list is updated occasionally, with newer additions listed first.
Census: Number of U.S. youth shrinks — Decline of more than 260,000 from 2010.
U.S. population grows at slowest rate since 1940s — A growth rate of 0.92 percent.
A Connecticut Town Adjusts to a Graying Population — Connecticut’s median age was 40 in 2010.
Is economy best birth control? US births dip again — Total Fertility Rate fell to 1.9 children.
Will the housing bust produce a baby bust? — A likely contributor to a baby bust.
Older Populations Soar as Age Trend Accelerates — Eastern and “rust belt” areas are aging rapidly.
Census reveals plummeting U.S. birthrates — There are now more households with dogs than children.
Where have all the children gone? — Number of kids declining across the country.
Census: New Hampshire population aging, growing — Median age jumps from 37 to 41.
The Baby Bust of 2009 in the United States — Births fell from 4,316,233 (2007) to 4,131,019 (2009).
Driven by the Recession, a Baby Bust Hits the U.S. — Threatens already-strained social programs.
Report: U.S. births hit all-time high — More babies in 2007 in the U.S. than ever before.
Babies — Expensive, Intrusive and Too Few for the Economy — $286,000 per baby.
3 Utah metro areas among fastest growing in U.S. — Utah’s continuing baby boom credited.
Birthrate drops in multiple states — Pregnancy falloff began months before economy’s troubles.
Population drop-off vexes Maine residents — Stems mostly from young people leaving.
The Family: The Hope for the Future of Nations — Happiness and the future is linked to children.
U.S. Birth Rate Decline Linked to Recession — An analysis of state fertility.
400 Million People Can’t Be Wrong — Why America’s new baby boom bodes well for our future.
It is interesting to note that even though Utah has the highest TFR, it is 34th in Teen Birth Rates. Also note that States that have lower Teen Birth Rates than Utah are all East Coast States.
Have you seen “Demographic Winter”? It is truly chilling. I suffer with infertility, but have always wished to have a large family. With all my heart I wish it. People with working ovaries have no idea what a blessing that is. I cannot imagine self imposed infertility.
There are many, many unwanted children in the USA and an even higher percentage in the rest of the world, where in some areas, girl children are murdered at birth. I do not know what the LDS take on adoption is, but if it is favorable, please consider it.
We adopted a half American Korean girl when she was 3 months and she is the most darling child today, and very successful. At 28, she has just had her first, and she was a blessing.
Beetlebabee, It is always an honor to have you comment on my blog. No, I haven’t seen Demographic Winter. I have a link to the website in my “The Falling Fertility of Europe” post and I have watched the trailer. Just looking at the numbers (or lack of) in Europe is enough to know there is a problem. People just haven’t figured out yet that population declines can be really serious. Governments have already looked over the numbers and figured out there is a problem years ago. That’s why deductions and tax credits for children keep increasing in a belated attempt to fix all the over-population propaganda that was spewed out for decades. Sorry about your infertility. However, you seem to be putting your time to good use with your excellent blogging.
On the off chance that this comment will get read so long after the article is published, I’m curious about the rationale of lower fertility rate being bad. I’m investigating overpopulation and trying to learn what I can about the state of the problem, what’s going on to fix it, etc. Hopefully someone will see this and comment back.
From an economic point of view low fertility by itself is not necessarily a problem. What is the problem is the ratio of workers to retirees. Demographic momentum is carrying world population higher ( see http://www.rickety.us/2009/10/world-total-fertility-rate-declines/ ) even as the fertility rate has been declining for 60 years. Once the population peaks, demographic momentum will take the population lower at just a fast a pace, creating young-to-old ratios that will be seriously out of balance.
From a religious point of view, each child is precious, and is a gift from God. From scripture we learn that we are to multiply and replenish the earth ( Gen. 1:28 http://www.lds.org/scriptures/ot/gen/1.28?lang=eng#27 )
A child is not another CO2 menace but God replenishing the earth. A child grows to be a productive adult that most probably will produce, create, and beautify people’s lives and benefit the world.
From a national point of view a child keeps alive the culture of a nation and is willing to fight to preserve what is right and good.
I have not read much about fertility but I have raised five children so I consider myself an expert on “over-population”. My expert view is it is not a problem once correct principles are embraced and one gets way from the propaganda machine.
Dr. Michael Blume says
Thanks for the interesting post! As I am inquiring correlations of religion & demography, I was looking for some new studies on Mormon fertility. Here in Germany, there is an ensuing debate whether religiosity is correlated with higher reproductive success (which would mean a lot from the perspective of biology!). Thus, I linked your blog-post from my (German) science blog. And if you’d know about any scientific paper on the topic to add to the Web Resources on Religion & Reproduction, that would be great!
Thanks from across the ocean! :-)
Thank you for your comment. I do not know of any new studies on Mormon fertility but if I come across any I will contact you. Living in the heart of Utah it is obvious through observation that people of faith generally have more children. I wish you well in your endeavors.
Beetlebabee, perhaps you should consider adopting one of the many children who have been abandoned to a foster home in America. My mom was one of those children, and she certainly appreciated it back in the day.
It is indeed interesting that fertility falls off. In your link the backwards J that is discussed is not something all demographers agree on. For example, see http://www.demographymatters.blogspot.com/2009/08/more-on-fertility-and-hdi.html
And of course with half the world’s population having a lower than replacement fertility not all nations will be able to attract all the immigrants they need.
It’s amazing how many people have fertility problems in the U.S.
I think one of the biggest factors causing fertility is chemicals such as pesticides, plasticizers (bisphenol A and phthalates), surfectants (alkylphenols), artificial fragrances, and flame retardants (PBDEs).
Some of these chemicals can cause trouble even at 2,000 times less than what the EPA regulated amounts says. Also about 2,000 new chemicals enter the product lines every year, yet there is no adequate testing, and these ‘newly introduced’ chemicals aren’t even listed as active ingredients.
But yeah, It’s amazing what is happening. If I would have to guess, the future of this world is going to be almost like the movie “Children of Men”, that is, if the government doesn’t start doing something to monitor things that harm reproductive organs.
It hadn’t occurred to me that chemicals could be a problem. Thank you for the information. How many people do you think it affects?
Fertility Problems says
Chemicals do play a huge role. Just from our drinking water along we are getting microscopic specs of different chemicals we shouldn’t. These include things such as Vicodin, ibuprofen, birth control, etcetera, which is flushed down the toilet.
I really wish I could find that article, it was in the nytimes, if I ever do I’ll post it.
To those who wish they could become pregnant but can’t, I have to say I can sympathize with them. My husband and I tried for several years to get me pregnant, but to no avail. Then I learned that what your body is telling you is that you’re not healthy enough to carry a baby. I discovered a holistic method to treat the whole body and conceived our first child in 2 1/2 months. Its worth a try and cost a heck of a lot less than pills, drugs, and surgeries.
You are right it is worth a try and it did work for you. If nothing else one would be more healthy than before. Thank you for your comment and congratulations on your baby.
Betsy Powell says
I am also an advocate of a natural approach to trying to get pregnant. I have written an article on getting pregnant after miscarriage that you may find interesting and helpful. It is great news to see that so many are now getting involved. The environment, nutrition, and general health are factors in fertility.
Hi Ricky, thank you for always posting something like faith promoting stuff i really appreciate it. I just want to ask if you are aware of this site? [the Academy for Creating Enterprise] it is an institution that is being founded by an LDS couple.It has been helping returned missionaries from the Philippines to become Self reliant by teaching them the basics of business for 10 years now.I am one of the students that was blessed by the kindness of this institution.
I think the most important factor for infertility is the smoking. Almost all women who are smokers, have infertility problems. However, the stress and the food full of chemicals can increase the infertility percent.
Hey you seem to forget one thing, economic growth and prosperity and population growth are NOT linked together. Look at eastern europe in the last decade, they have had a huge population decline, but rapid economic growth at the same time. Poland has a huge population decline currently but is the europea unions fastes growing economy. Historically after the black plague in the 14th century where aprox. 1/3-2/3 of european population died the economic situation for those left became better, and at the same time Europe entered the renisance.
Economic liberalization after being released from the shackles of Communism more than compensated for any loss of growth due to population declines. Also, since 2004, access to European Union structural funds have provided a major boost to the economy.
However, GDP per capita is still much below the EU average, and unemployment in 2010 was 11.8%, 2% above the EU average. Rising demands to fund health care, education, and the state pension system caused the public sector budget deficit to rise to 7.9% of GDP in 2010. 17% of the population is below the poverty line. (Source: CIA World Factbook)
I guess when you start from low down in the food chain, any sort of growth is impressive.
I agree with your summary. It seems the central bankers and powers to be have a population control agenda.
Speaking of fertility – if anyone you know is having trouble with ovarian cysts, please check out the herbal treatment for ovarian cysts. I’m a firm believer that natural treatments are better than drugs and surgery.
Another reason my day is lost. Guys, please don’t post such information that is meant to depress people. I mean are you kidding me:”United States Total Fertility Rate Increases”. Who is interested in this? By increasing the population our wages become lower and more people will die from hunger. Now you realize how smart you are.
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