In 2017, Fertility rates in the the US hit as all-time low, according to a new report released by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. Birth rates also hit a 30 year low, and researchers aren’t exactly sure why.
That all might sound pretty scary if you’re a woman considering getting pregnant in the near (or not-so-near) future. So, is it time to panic and prepare yourself for a Handmaid’s Tale-like future? No, definitely not. It is, however, worth taking a closer look at the data and figuring out what it might mean for you.
What exactly is fertility rate?
Fertility rate is a measure of births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. Last year, that number was 60.2, according to the report—down 3% from the same measure in 2016. This decline continues a trend that started during the Great Recession in 2008.
While demographers typically expect fewer births during periods of economic instability, the fact that fertility and birth rates have continued to decline even as the economy has improved remains a source of confusion.
As Kenneth M. Johnson, a demographer at the University of New Hampshire, told the New York Times, “Every year I look at data and expect it will be the year that birthrates start to tick up, and every year we hit another all-time low. It’s one of the big demographic mysteries of recent times.”
Johnson noted that the decline is also happening despite a growing number of women of childbearing age. In 2017, there were an estimated 7 percent more women in their prime childbearing years of 20 to 39 than a decade before. Yet women had nearly 500,000 fewer babies than in 2007.
What does it mean for you?
Fertility rate does not measure an individual’s ability to conceive children, but it does reflect some broader societal trends. Birth rates have fallen across all age categories except one—women aged 40-44. Women in their forties actually had 2 percent more babies than in 2016.
One of the most unusual findings of the report, according to demographers, was a decline in birth rate for women in their 30s. Previously, the rate for that group had trended upward. Overall, the numbers seem to point towards a trend of women waiting even longer than previous generations to have kids.
It’s clear that with many women delaying having kids, it’s more important than ever that we protect our reproductive health long term.
What can you do?
In 2018, we have the freedom to grow our careers, travel, and do a million other things! We also have the freedom to get pregnant when the time is right for us. While we thrive, Freya is there to support our reproductive health, so that we’re ready to conceive when the time is right.
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Ready to nurture your reproductive health long term?