Data released this week by the CDC shows that in 2011 the U.S. birth rate has hit a historic low at 63.2 births per 1,000 women between 15 and 44, a 1% decline since 2010. The birth rate for teenagers in the U.S., which has been declining since 1991, has also reached a record low of 31.3 births per 1000 women between 15 and 19, an 8% decline since 2011.
Birth rates varied among several demographic groups. The birth rate among Hispanic, non-Hispanic black, and American Indian/Alaska Native women all declined from their 2010 rates, while other race and ethnic groups maintained the same rate. Additionally, the birth rate for unmarried women declined by 3%, while the birth rate for married women rose 1%.
The CDC data reflects the increasing age of mothers. Birth rates for women in their 20s declined, while birth rates for women 35 to 44 increased. The findings also bring good news for children with decreases in preterm births and low birthweight babies.
Experts attribute the overall declining birth rate to reduced desire to have children due to the weak economy, though the teen birth rate likely dropped due to increased use of contraceptives. However, the overall birth rate declined only 1% in 2011, compared to 2 to 3% in previous years, which may suggest the effects of the recession are declining.