The prospect of overpopulation is commonly used to justify not having children, but America’s birth rate has actually been below the replacement rate since 1971.
While the mainstream media attempt to pin the blame on factors like environmental change and the unaffordability of goods, the states with the highest birth rates could tell a different story.
The United States’ replacement birthrate would be about two children per woman. The 2021 birth rate, however, was only 1.66 per woman. This is less than half of the nation’s peak rate in the 1950s, when women were averaging 3.7 children each.
The CDC reported that in 2020 the birth rate dropped from 3.7 million to around 3.6 million. Rates increased slightly in 2021, but by 2022 there were 3,000 fewer births and the rate still remains below pre-pandemic levels.
The birth rate for women between the ages of 20 – 24 has dropped 43% since 2007, while rates have increased for women ages 35 to 44.
The World Population Review and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report South Dakota as having the highest birth rate in the nation, growing at around 68 births per 1,000 people.
Vermont is ranked as the lowest, with a birth rate of 44 per 1,000 people. This means that South Dakota women are having 53% more babies than women in Vermont.
South Dakota and Utah were the only two states that were consistently maintaining the replacement rate, but by 2020 Utah’s numbers had dipped below replacement.
Despite the already dire situation, the narrative painted around having multiple children is still largely negative. The CDC claims that “high birth rates are typically associated with low life expectancy, low living standards and education levels, and low social status for women.”
Similarly, an article in the Wall Street Journal states that “women report that economic and social obstacles are causing them to have fewer children than they want.”
However, according to Fox News, there are three factors that statistically relate to higher birth rates and these factors are seen in the states with more births. The factors are
a state’s cost of living (a lower cost of living associated with a higher birth rate); the share of residents who seldom or never attend religious services (with a lower connection to organized religion associated with lower birth rates); and the 2020 vote for Joe Biden (with states that gave Biden the largest share having the lowest birth rates).
While many on the political left attempt to blame the falling rates on a lack of government programs, a national ranking of childcare found that six of the seven states with the lowest birth rates are actually in the top 10 states for childcare programs.
More American women than ever are choosing to be childless. A study by the Institute of Family Studies found that in the U.S. one in six women in their 40’s have never given birth, and that 20% of these women are college-educated.
Recent data, however, find that women who are married with children report higher rates of happiness than those who choose to remain childless.
Popular books like the 1968 “Population Bomb” by Stanford professor Paul R. Ehrlich fueled a national hysteria about limiting children. The trend also led to the widespread ridicule of large families for taking up limited resources.
But the lack of openness to life has swung America into a problem that’s the opposite of what Ehrlich and his ilk feared: We’re now facing a baby bust, and it has demonstrably failed to increase our quality of life.
Childbearing may continue to be discouraged and disincentivized, but the reality is that America needs families to survive.