“U.S. Birth Rate Falls to a Record Low; Decline Is Greatest Among Immigrants” was the headline story about new stats from the Pew Research Center. A variety of publications, most prominently the New York Times, have taken Pew’s report as support for an alleged need to birth more babies.
This is nonsense.
Referencing preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics, Pew’s release said the overall birth rate in 2011 was 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, believed to be the lowest since at least 1920. (At the other end, peak birth rates in the U.S. were in the late 1950s – 122.7 per 1,000 women.)
But if you look at total numbers, there were 3,953,593 U.S. births in 2011, which was only 45,793 fewer than the prior year, and 362,407 below the 2007 record year with 4,316,000 births. In other words, 2011, looking at total numbers, was not too far off from a year of the highest total number of births.
We can also look further at the various measures used to understand “birth rate.” The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) prepared a piece explaining the difference between “crude birth rate,” “general fertility rate” and “total fertility rate” (TFR).
PRB says that TFR is the most useful when trying to look at birth rate trends, as it provides the most “apples-to-apples” measure. Looking at TFR, 1976, not 2011, turned in the lowest birth rate.
Further, read beyond the Pew Research Center headlines, and there’s this: “Despite the recent decline, foreign-born mothers continue to give birth to a disproportionate share of the nation’s newborns, as they have for at least the past two decades.” In 2010, there were 102 births, per 1,000 women, to foreign-born mothers between the ages of 15 and 44, versus 62.4, per 1,000 women, to U.S.-born mothers. Births to foreign-born women have been trending up since 1990, while births to U.S.-born mothers have been trending down during that period.
We’re certainly in no danger of being depopulated in the U.S. anytime soon.
Further, unless the United States changes its open borders immigration policy, the nation will never achieve sustainable population. Advocates for further overpopulating our already too crowded world have taken two words – “record low” – without understanding the total population picture, a cockeyed justification to reproduce more.