The United States could be heading toward a national emergency as birth rates, which have been on the downturn for years, just hit a record low, The Washington Post reports. While it's too soon to tell what the consequences could be — or if this trend is just a blip — low birthrates have the ability to send tremors through the economy as young people are unable to replace retirees and tax revenue falls.
So what's going on?
According to provisional 2016 population data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, the number of births fell 1 percent from a year earlier, bringing the general fertility rate to 62.0 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44. The trend is being driven by a decline in birthrates for teens and 20-somethings. The birthrate for women in their 30s and 40s increased — but not enough to make up for the lower numbers in their younger peers. [The Washington Post]
Like most things in life, you can blame this on millennials; many experts fear the generation is less likely to have babies, while others caution that millennials are simply putting off parenthood longer. But Donna M. Strobino, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told The Washington Post that there is another decline, too, that we should be celebrating: teen pregnancies.
"What this is is a trend of women becoming more educated and more mature," Strobino said. "I'm not sure that's bad."