US Fertility Rates Plummet in 2017


According to studies presented by The Population Research Institute, the birth and fertility rate in the US is currently at an all-time low.

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) is the department within the CDC that tracks US birthrate. In 2016, the CDC reported that the birth rate had bottomed out at 62 births per 1,000 women of reproductive age. This represents a slump from 2015 data. According to the NCHS, the birth rate is continuing to dip lower yet as 2017 statistics begin to roll in.

Interestingly, the rates mimic a similar slump in fertility during the Great Depression of the 1920s. Experts believe that the Great Recession (which many economists say more resembles a second great depression than a true recession) is to blame for the slump in birth and fertility rates.

Experts argue that economic uncertainty and wavering job security concerns have motivated younger women to postpone childbearing in favor of continuing their education in hopes of securing more stable work. Their theory is supported by the fact that despite the birth rate slump in women aged 15-29 years, there is an uptick in births to mothers aged 30 and above. However, the increased number of births to more mature mothers is not large enough to cover the gap created by the drop in fertility of younger women.

In all, the continued slump in birthrate could spell major complications for the US economy in the coming decades. Experts theorize that as much as 30% of our economic growth is the result of new workers entering the workforce every year. With fewer people being born, the gap between those entering the workplace to those exiting will become severely unbalanced. This leads to underfunding of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Along with the economic influence on fertility, experts note that American culture has changed in the 80 years since the first American depression. Due to these changes, statisticians do not expect a second “baby-boomer” generation following the recovery of the US economy and consumer confidence. While experts do expect the downward trend to begin to recover as early as 2018, they doubt that levels will rebound to their pre-2007 counterparts. This, they theorize, is the direct result of a lowered fertility expectation among Americans. More women are choosing to postpone marriage and childbirth until later in life. For many women, this societal shift may lead to difficulty conceiving.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.