There Are Fewer Babies

According to the Centers for DiseaseControl and Prevention (CDC) (2019), about 3,788,235 babies were born in 2018, 2% down from the number in 2017 (3,855,500). It is the fourth year in a row that the number of births has declined, and it is the lowest number of births in the past 32 years. This indicates an ongoing fertility slump that is changing America’s future workforce.

Birthrates fell for nearly all racial and age groups of women under 40 years, with only slight gains for women in their early 40s (CDC, 2019).

The general fertility rate was 60.2 births per 1,000 women, aged 15-44. The reason behind the decline may be due to teenagers and unmarried women having fewer babies. There are also lower fertility rates among Hispanic women. Aside from an uptick in women getting bachelor’s degrees, there is also expanded the use of long-acting contraceptives, such as the intrauterine device (IUD).

What this means is that the total fertility rate, which is the estimated number of children born to each woman over her lifetime, fell to 1.7. If it continues to decline without an increase in immigration, it might lead to a workforce that is too small to support the country’s retirees. These numbers have surprised demographers, who anticipated the birthrates to show signs of stabilizing or even rising, as the U.S. economy and job market has improved over the last decade. However, the drop could affect forecasts about how the country will look with an older population and fewer young workers to sustain the workforce. Some critics argue that the current political turmoil and a gloomy outlook for America’s future are the causes of what is behind the negative sentiment among people of childbearing age.

There are also a string of obstacles to raising kids in the U.S., such as the frustration of finding childcare, high insurance costs, a lack of parental leave, and many other support systems. American workers’ paychecks have also not been growing at the same pace as the national economy. Although the unemployment rate has improved significantly from the Great Recession, companies are still using layoffs to maintain profits at the expense of their employees. Furthermore, the trend in decreasing birthrates may be attributable to cultural shifts, where more Americans delay marriage and child-rearing.

On the bright side, the data don’t suggest that Americans are getting less fertile. The declining birthrates seem to be driven mostly by sociological reasons, either by choice or out of financial necessity. 

It is crucial to keep in mind that population replacement is an essential indication of a country’s public and economic health. If the number of older adults is increasing, and causing a dip in the labor market is far more significant than the number of babies born, a country’s economy and social services will soon become unsustainable. In the worst case scenarios, the U.S. birth rates may come close to the fertility issues in Japan and many in Europe.

The country needs to bring the U.S. immigration system to the 21st century to tackle its fertility issues. The three ways to bring about this change is to end chain migration, adopt an employment-based immigration system, and getting rid of the diversity visa program and the 7% per country cap (Inserra, 2018). The American public would benefit more if the Congress focused on the immigration reforms, rather than concentrating on amnesty.

CDC. (2019, May). Births: Provisional Data for 2018. Retrieved from

Inserra, D. (2018, January 31). These 3 Changes Would Drastically Improve Our Immigration System. Retrieved from

Written by  Jeanie Ng