The falling birthrate among teenagers was especially dramatic, decreasing 8 per cent and reaching another record low. The birthrate in that age group 15 to 19 has decreased 63 per cent since 2007. The birthrate for women ages 20 to 24 fell 6 per cent from 2019. Birthrates for women ages 25 to 29 and 30 to 34 were each down 4 per cent.
By contrast, the birthrate for women ages 40 to 44 had risen almost continuously since 1985 by an average of 3 per cent as Americans increasingly chose to have children later in life. But for the first time last year, that trend stopped, with the births among that age group not changing.
Beyond anxiety about the pandemic, a multitude of factors are likely at play.
Research has shown birth declines strongly tied to economic crises. The current continuous drop, for example, can be traced back to the 2008 Great Recession. But even as the economy has improved in recent years, the birthrate continued to drop. And the pandemic appears to have only accelerated that decline.
Several surveys conducted during the pandemic have suggested a decline in the sex lives of Americans, with the coronavirus seeming to dramatically change sexual behaviour, as it has in almost every facet of society.
One survey found that declines in intercourse especially among couples stuck at home with school-age children. The decline in sex also correlated with symptoms of depression and loneliness.
At the beginning of the US pandemic, women in some parts of the country were not allowed to give birth with a loved one by their side and little was known about how coronavirus affected pregnant women and their babies.
For the past decade, experts have pointed to the falling birthrates as one piece of a larger shift in the country’s demographics that has led to overall declines in population growth.
Deaths have been rising as Americans from the baby boomer generation and older get closer to end of life. The number of immigrants has declined in recent years.