Posted on April 26, 2024

U.S. Fertility Rate Falls to Record Low

Jennifer Calfas and Anthony DeBarros, Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2024

American women are giving birth at record-low rates.

The total fertility rate fell to 1.62 births per woman in 2023, a 2% decline from a year earlier, federal data released Thursday showed. It is the lowest rate recorded since the government began tracking it in the 1930s.

The decline reflects a continuing trend as American women navigate economic and social challenges that have prompted some to forgo or delay having children. A confluence of factors are at play. American women are having fewer children, later in life. Women are establishing fulfilling careers and have more access to contraception.

At the same time, young people are also more uncertain about their futures and spending more of their income on homeownership, student debt and child care. Some women who wait to have children might have fewer than they would have otherwise for reasons including declining fertility.


The number of births last year was the lowest since 1979, according to provisional data. About 3.59 million children were born in the U.S. in 2023, a 2% drop compared with 3.66 million in 2022.


The rate in the U.S. has remained generally under or around 2.1 children per woman, or what is known as the “replacement rate,” since the 1970s. A rate of 1.62 in 2023 marks a new low and a sign of years of decline.


The long-term effects of lowering rates could shape the economy, programs including Social Security and other facets of American life, said Phillip Levine, an economics professor at Wellesley College. “It has the ability to have a significant impact on the way we live for a long time to come,” he said.

An influx of people immigrating to the U.S. could offset the impact of lower birthrates on the U.S. population’s size, said Hamilton, the report author. Immigration has risen in recent years, easing labor shortages and expanding the population of big metropolitan areas.


The general fertility rate dropped 3% to 54.4 births per 1,000 women ages 15-44, with declines across most race and ethnicity groups tracked by the federal government. The fertility rate for Hispanic women, after rising in 2022, fell by 1% to 65 births per 1,000 women. Among non-Hispanic groups, fertility rates for American Indian and Alaska Native and Black women fell by 5% and by 3% for Asian and white women.