The U.S. fertility rate hit a 42-year low in the first quarter of 2018, new data released Wednesday by the Center for Disease Control show.
New numbers from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) reveal that the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has fallen steadily since the first quarter of 2016. The TFR measures the number of children likely to be born per woman of childbearing age over her life course. The rate for the year ending in Q1 2018 was 1.759 children per woman, down from the end-of-2017 rate of 1.76.
Demographic Intelligence, a firm which forecasts demographic trends, projected that TFR will continue to fall through 2018, hitting 1.74 by the end of the year.
The “replacement rate”—the number of children each woman needs to have in order to “replace” herself and her partner in the population—is usually pegged at 2.1, which accounts for women who die before bearing children. As CDC data show, the United States has been below replacement fertility for decades, meaning that the size of each subsequent generation has grown smaller. A sustained below-replacement TFR eventually means that a population will stop growing altogether, as has happened in countries such as Japan, Lithuania, and Latvia.