CDC: U.S. Fertility Rate Below Replacement for 9th Straight Year

Terence P. Jeffrey | February 15, 2018 | 5:31pm EST
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( - The total fertility rate of the United States fell below the replacement level for the ninth straight year in 2016, according to the final birth data report for that year published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The last time it was above the replacement level was 2007, according to CDC historical data published in the final birth report for 2015.

At the same time, the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook ranks the total fertility rate of the United States at 143rd in the world. That places this country behind the United Kingdom, which ranks 142nd, and Sweden, which ranks 141st.

According to the CDC’s historical data, the U.S. total fertility rate (TFR) has now been below the replacement level in 43 of the last 45 years. The only two years during which it reached slightly above the replacement level were 2006 and 2007.


“TFR estimates the number of births that a hypothetical group of 1,000 women would have over their lifetimes, based on age-specific birth rates in a given year,” says the CDC. “Because it is computed from age-specific birth rates, TFR is age adjusted and can be compared for populations across time, population groups, and geographic areas.”

“The total fertility rate in 2016 was 1,820.5 births per 1,000 women, down 1% from 2015 (1,843.5),” said the CDC report.

“TFR for the nation in 2016 was again below ‘replacement,’ the level at which a given generation can exactly replace itself (generally considered to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women),” said the report.

“U.S. TFR has generally been below replacement since 1971,” said this CDC report.

That year, the total fertility rate for the United States was 2,266.50. But, in 1972, it dropped to 2,010.0. It did not again move back above the replacement level of 2,100 until 2006, when it hit 2,108.00. In 2007, it also reached above the replacement level, hitting 2.120.00.

But in the nine years on record since then (2008-2016), it has generally trended downward and has never again achieved the replacement level.

In 1959, according to the CDC’s Table 1-7, the total fertility rate of the United States was far above the replacement level, hitting 3,669.70.

It remained above 3,000 through 1964, when it was 3,190.50.

It stayed consistently above replacement through the rest of the 1960s, finishing that decade at 2,455.0 in 1969.

In 1970 and 1971, it was 2,480.0 and 2,266.50.

The total fertility rate then stayed below the replacement level for 34 straight years (1972-2005) until it moved back up to 2,108.0 in 2006, according to Table 4 in the CDC’s final birth data report for 2015.

In the period of 1959 through 2016, the total fertility rate hit its lowest annual level in 1976, when it was 1,738.00.

The CIA World Factbook includes a 2017 estimate of the U.S. total fertility rate, which it says was 1.87 babies per woman. The United Kingdom and Sweden edged out the United States in the World Factbook with estimated TFRs of 1.88 babies per woman.

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