For a long time, one of the most popular talking points for pundits was the idea that we were headed towards an overpopulated future, where we’d all be living atop one another. Flash forward to 2019 and things, at least in the US, seem to be headed in the opposite direction.
A top level view of birth and fertility rates
2019 saw 3,745,540 births, at an average birth rate (births per 1,000 people) of 11.4, which marked the fifth straight year that the number of births in the United States declined. It also marks the lowest number of births in the US since 1985 — the year that bought us Live Aid, New Coke and Ronald Reagan’s second term.
So, why is this happening? Well, the fertility rate (births per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old) is also steadily declining and hit a new record low in 2019 of 58.2 — beating the previous record-low fertility rate of 59.1 set the year prior.
Looking around the nation, Vermont has both the lowest birth rate (8.6 births per 1,000 people) and lowest fertility rate (46.9 births per 1,000 women 15 to 44 year old) in 2019.
At the other end of the spectrum, Utah has the highest birth rate (14.6 births per 1,000 people) and South Dakota has the highest fertility rate (70.7 births per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old).
Birth rates by state
Maybe it’s something in the water in the Northeast as the states with the lowest birth rates all come from the New England area. Vermont has the lowest birth rate in the country, at 8.6 births per 1,000 people, followed by New Hampshire (8.7 births), Maine (8.8 births), Rhode Island (9.6 births) and Connecticut (9.6 births).
On the flip side, with a birth rate 70% higher than Vermont, is Utah with a birth rate of 14.6, followed by North Dakota (13.7 births), Alaska (13.4 births), Texas (13 births) and South Dakota (12.9 births).
|Rank (lowest to highest birth rate)||Geography||Birth rate|
Note: Birth rates are the number of births per 1,000 people in each geography. Population is based on the ACS 1-year census estimates as of July 1, 2019.
Source: NVSS: Births: Provisional Data for 2019; analysis by Finder
Fertility rates by state
It may come as little surprise that the states with the lowest fertility rates are also all located in the New England area. All of the five states with the lowest birth rates, except Connecticut, also have the five lowest fertility rates. Vermont once again takes the lead with 46.9 births per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old. It was followed by New Hampshire (48.2 births), Rhode Island (49.5 births), Massachusetts (49.6 births) and Maine (50.2 births).
Leading the way in fertility is South Dakota with 70.7 births per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old, followed by Alaska (68.9 births), North Dakota (68.8 births), Utah (66.2 births) and Nebraska (66 births).
While the District of Columbia did not make the list as it’s not considered a state, its birth rate versus its fertility are the most interesting in the nation, and had it been on the list it would have the second-highest fertility rate but the fifth-lowest birth rate.
|Rank (highest to lowest birth rate)||Geography||Fertility rate|
Note: Fertility rates are the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years in each geography. Population and median age of women is based on the ACS 1-year census estimates as of July 1, 2019.
Source: NVSS: Births: Provisional Data for 2019; analysis by Finder
The United States birth rate is declining
Birth rates and fertility rates have been on a gradual decline since around 2007. With both the number of births and fertility rates below the record lows set in1985, 2019 holds the new record for the lowest birth and fertility rates in the US.
|Year||Number of births||Fertility rate||Birth rate|
What is the average age to have a baby in the US?
Amid all time lows for birth and fertility, the US hit an all time high for the average age of women giving birth at 26.9 years old. According to the CDC, “The increase in the mean age in 2018 reflects, in part, the decline in first births to females in their teens and 20s, and the rise in first births to women in their 30s and early 40s.”
|Year||Average age of mothers overall||Average age of mothers at first birth|
Is pregnancy and birth covered by disability insurance?
Some disability insurance policies cover pregnancy and can pay out a portion of your income if you can’t work due to pregnancy complications or help you financially prepare for taking time off work after you bring your baby home. However, you’ll have to have disability insurance in place before you get pregnant to receive coverage.
How you’re covered depends on which type of plan you have. If you have a group disability plan through your work, staying home for six to eight weeks after your birth might be covered. If you have an individual disability insurance plan, staying home after you deliver your baby might not be covered, unless you experience complications. Speak with your job’s benefits coordinator or insurance company to find out the details of what your policy covers.
We define birth rate as the number of births per 1,000 people and fertility rate as the number of births per 1,000 women 15 to 44 years old in the selected population. The birth rate in 2019 was calculated using the total provisional number of births in 2019 along with the estimated population of women 15 to 44 years old in each state. In 2019, 99.7% of all births were to women 15 to 44 years old.
To see if the average age of women correlated with fertility rates, we compared the median age of women in each state with the fertility rate in each state. We found that this calculates to a Pearson correlation coefficient of -0.66, meaning that the median age of women is moderately, negatively correlated with fertility rates. As the median age of women goes up, generally fertility rates decrease.
Data on the total number of births in 2019 was sourced from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS): Births: Provisional Data for 2019 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reported the provisional numbers of total births by state as well as by age of the mother.
Historical birth data was sourced by combining data from National Vital Statistics Reports (NVSR): Births: Final Data for 2015, NVSR: Births: Final Data for 2018, and NVSS: Births: Provisional Data for 2019.
Population estimates and median ages were sourced from the American Community Survey 1-Year Data by the Census Bureau.
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