In this data snapshot, Carsey Senior Demographer Kenneth Johnson reports that National Center for Health Statistics data for 2021 show a slight increase in births, rising 1.5 percent from the 2020 level which was a 40-year low. Even with the uptick, the 3,659,000 births in 2021 were the second fewest in 40 years. There is little to suggest a substantial increase in fertility rates in the short term, though preliminary data suggest that births in the first three months of 2022 were higher than in early 2021 when COVID first impacted births.
Contemporary trends continue a birth decline that began in the era of the Great Recession. The extent of this slowdown in births over the past 14 years is reflected in the fact that there were 657,0000 fewer births in 2021 than in 2007: a 15.2 percent decrease. Had the fertility patterns of 2007 been sustained, 3 million more women would have had at least one child by 2020. This has implications for health care, schools, child-related businesses, and eventually for the labor force.
Carsey School of Public Policy
Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire
Johnson, Kenneth M., "U.S. Fertility Up Slightly, but 8.6 Million Fewer Births Long Term" (2022). The Carsey School of Public Policy at the Scholars' Repository. 450.
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