Birth rates in the United States have continued to drop for the fourth straight year, even reaching their lowest figures in 32 years in 2018.
In a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of new babies born in the country last year was at about 3.7 million. This is 2 percent lower compared to birth rates recorded in 2017.
The federal agency said almost all racial and age groups experienced a drop off in birth rates. Women between their late 30s and early 40s are the only who had a slight increase during the period.
Population experts say the development comes as a surprise seeing how the U.S. job market and the economy, in general, has considerably grown over the past few years. They expected birth rates in the country to stabilize or even rise as a result.
The continued decline in birth rates will inevitably force demographers to make changes in their forecasts on how the United States will look in the future. It is likely that the country will be populated by mostly older people, with only a few young workers to run important social systems.
Birth Rate Drop Off
The CDC report showed that birth rates among teenagers, women between the ages of 15 and 19, declined by as much as 7 percent from rates in 2017. They are also down by more than half from figures in 2007.
Birth rates among women between the ages of 20 and 34 also experienced a drop off compared to numbers in 2017.
The researchers only saw a slight increase in rates among older women. Those between the ages of 35 and 39 showed a 1 percent rise, while those between 40 and 44 had a 2 percent increase.
Americans Putting Family Plans On Hold
Demographers are calling the negative trend in U.S. birth rates as a national problem.
Dowell Myers, a population expert from the University of Southern California, said the development in birth numbers is a "barometer of despair." He explained that many young people are putting off their plans to have babies unless they find some optimism about their future.
Myers said experts initially thought the recent downturn in birth rates was caused by the recession. There was a slight increase in births in 2012, but it dropped off again soon after.
He pointed out that births in the United States should already be increasing by now, based on almost all economic standards, with the exception of high housing costs.
Myers also discussed the negative sentiment seemingly prevalent among people of childbearing age, which he believes could be caused by the current political climate and the uncertain future surrounding the country.
"Not a whole lot of things are going good, and that's haunting young people in particular, more than old people." the demographer noted.
Younger people also seem to be postponing their marriage and family plans to later point in their lives.
Prof. Donna Strobino, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the country is in the midst of a major social change with regards to women choosing to get married and bear children.
Strobino believes this trend stems for economic challenges, seeing that is very expensive to raise a child in the country's current situation. It could also be because of the different social challenges regarding women's roles.