Last year saw the lowest birth rate in the US since 1978, according to data from the US National Center for Health Statistics. The decline in fertility in recent years means that the US population is not able to replace itself through reproduction alone.
The latest statistics are based on data collected from birth records across the US, which together account for over 99 per cent of all birth certificates recorded in the country. These suggest that the total number of births in the US in 2017 was down 2 per cent on the previous year. Today, over the lifetimes of every 1000 women, there are around 1764 births – not enough to replace the population.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” says Kevin Doody of the Center for Assisted Reproduction in Texas. “Most developed countries are seeing the same phenomenon.”
Population stability is important, and has come to depend on immigration in places like the US, says Doody. “Immigration has allowed the population to increase at a healthy rate,” he says. “Without that, the population would shrink, and more of the population would be older – which we see in places like Japan.”
As a result of this, Japan is set to face economic problems due to a declining workforce and an ageing population in need of health support.