New federal data suggests that American women are having fewer babies than ever before. In the first quarter of 2016, 59.8 babies were born for every 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44, almost half of the birth rate during the 1950’s baby boom. The data also shows that women keep delaying motherhood. The average age that a woman delivered her first baby has shifted from 21 years old four decades ago, to 26.3 today. The Washington Post summarized some of the reasons for this quite radical shift. While some of them are linked to increased female empowerment — such as the wider access to birth control, more women finishing studying and launching careers before starting a family (or not starting one at all) — a surprising find is that a lot of women are actually having fewer children than they would like. A Pew Research Center survey from 2014 found that 40 percent of women “of childbearing age” said they have fewer children than they would want, often because they are afraid they won’t be able to afford caring for a child. “We have to see the declining fertility as being economic,” Nan Astone, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, told The Washington Post. “The coincidence of decline and recession is hard to ignore.” This explains why it is mostly young women who are causing the plummeting fertility rate, while women in their thirties, who often have more financial stability, actually experienced a slight baby bump. For every 1,000 women between the ages of 30 and 34, 102 babies were born in the first quarter of 2016, up from 101 in that same period in 2015.
Read the full story at the The Washington Post.