The Historically Low US Birth Report

Joe Graham comments
| Family

Last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their annual report that catalogs the number of births to women in the US for 2016. There was no opinion from the CDC, but a few news agencies picked up on the report and gave their own interpretation of the impact of the data. While most news outlets spun the report as a positive indicator for social progress, they may be missing a deeper problem within the data.

News Reports

The Washington Post first picked up the story, acknowledging that some are worried about a potential economic and cultural turmoil. Others, like Donna M. Strobino contrasted the view. Strobino, a Professor of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, comments on the data noting that, “teens having fewer babies is a positive trend.”

“What this is is (sp) a trend of women becoming more educated and more mature. I’m not sure that’s bad,” Strobino said.

Demographer William Frey told the Post, “that when the economy takes an uphill turn, people will start having more children.”

The Columbus Dispatch praised the decline in births among teenage girls as, “something to get excited about, because 80 percent of teenage pregnancies are unintended.” The primary method used to alleviate these unwanted pregnancies being, “more use of contraceptives, especially long-acting reversible methods such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and implants.”  Doctors and educators are using sex education “that includes discussions of both abstinence and contraception” as the path forward to continue to decrease pregnancies in the 15-19 year old group.

While acknowledging the praises for decreasing pregnancies in the “unwanted” young demographic there are still few articles that address the larger issue of the overall decline in births throughout American women’s overall years of fertility.

The New York Times noticed that rises occurred for older women, “ages 30-34 by 1%, and for women ages 35-39 up by 2 percent, the highest rate in that age group since 1962.” The Times also noted, “births among unmarried women went down, to 42.1 per 1,000 from 43.5 in 2015, a drop of 3 percent and the eighth consecutive year of decline since the peak of 51.8 in 2007 and 2008.”  The Times did not draw attention to the fact that the US still sits at 40% of all births in 2016 belonging to unwed women.

Slate is the only publication found that reported, “for the first time ever, women in their 30s are having more kids than women in their 20s. Right now, the highest birth rate is in the 30 to 34 age group, with the 25 to 29 group barely behind.”

Is There a Problem?

With the media’s report of these promising statistics, teen pregnancies down, increases in 30-34 and 35-39 year old women’s births, decreases in unmarried women births, the question remains, why are there still so few births for the US overall?

The prime ages for women in their “child-bearing” years are from 18-34, which accounted for 315.7 births in 2016 for every 1,000 women, a 2.3% decrease from 2015, a total of 50,676 less births in this age group.  The real data for the low number lies in this demographic almost exclusively, which accounts for 81.5% of all births for 2016.

An increase in this demographic would drastically increase the US birth rate overall.  The big question is: Why are most of these women NOT having children?

Go To School, Get a Good Job Honey

Our society as a whole has made tremendous shifts in their views of women. Many would see the feminist and progressive movements as positive trends in the emancipation of women and delivering them from their bondage, apparently from the home, to the “freedom” enjoyed in the workforce.

This freedom-feminist movement has encouraged more and more women to attend college, where women have outnumbered men in higher education for many years now.  The vast majority of those attending college, men and women, are doing so on borrowed dollars from various forms of “financial aid.”  What this creates is a large body of students who go through the college system with a massive weight of debt to fund these educational goals. The debt problem is getting so bad that students are asking for a pen-stroke dismissal from the President to erase this massive debt load.

The connection between the importance of attending college and becoming a valuable member of the workforce is highly arguable. Colleges have little incentive to evaluate the value of their degrees in the marketplace. With such readily available funding for a “credit worthy” class of jobless students, it makes good financial sense for schools to increase their educational degree offerings, regardless of the market value.

The college industrial process is so tuned that entrance standards have continued to decline, with many students not needing to demonstrate standardized academic requirements to attend. Even worse is the underemployment graduates find (33% for 1990-2012 graduates), causing them to end up employed in jobs that don’t even require the degrees they hold! The fact is that just like the constant inflation experienced through our own federal government’s massive Federal Reserve policies, the same trend is occurring as the drum is beaten about the necessity of a college education. Of course, many jobs do require higher forms of education and college is well suited for those vocations, specifically technical jobs, but the fact remains that students finish college with high levels of debt and have years of work ahead of them to get out of this deficit.

Working Women

Women in the “child-bearing” years find themselves right in the middle of this economic obstacle. Would it make sense for a man and woman that likely have two times the accumulated debt of one person to take the time required to leave the workforce for a pregnancy? Even if men and women find a way to assume this economic risk, which the birth rate trend undoubtedly shows they aren’t, they still have to quickly get back to work to keep themselves afloat financially.  

What this means is that by raising up generations of women to join men (a.k.a. compete with men) in the workforce, we’ve encouraged a system where women are intentionally enslaving themselves to up to a decade of economic servitude. As men and women come together to eventually start families, the larger the accumulated debt between them the greater the burden on the family, and the more likely they are to avoid children altogether.

The Blessing Of Debt, The Curse of Children

The economics behind the feminist perspective has created a cultural view that sees the massive accumulation of debt for men and women, with $30,000 dollars of average federal debt (2016), to be a normal, natural, “freedom-loving,” perspective across America.  With such “freedom” in education and vocation, the view of children is one of an economic burden, draining the family’s resources, potentially drowning them in unconquerable debt if either man or woman can’t maintain a steady income stream.  Who wants to bring children into that type of situation?

Older Women

Amazingly the age when college grads eventually feel relief from their mountains of college debt is right where we see the increases in woman’s birth rates—you guessed it: 34. As the biological clock of these women has steadily ticked by, women have naturally ended up in a higher risk category than their lower educated (home-making) counterparts. Women who start having children in their 30s will face a whole host of additional challenges throughout their gestation. This, of course, doesn’t even factor in the high probability that if they raise their children to follow the same path they do, they may not live long enough to see their grandchildren’s middle school graduations (likely to occur when they are a spry 80 years old)!

Who Needs a Man?

The sheer fact that 40% of all births in 2016 were to unwed mothers is shocking. This is simply an astounding statistic, that almost half of all births are happening in homes without a man, or without a life-long commitment to a family. The impact of the feminist-progressivist diatribe is full-throated here. A statistic this staggering is evidence of a totally individualistic perspective on the family as a whole and a complete removal of the traditional protectors over women overall: fathers.

Women having children outside the man-woman family structure is a self-perpetuating problem, it creates the same condition, disengaged men, that caused it in the first place, children growing up without fathers! This problem may be leveled against feminism, but this is a man problem pure and simple.

My Daughter Needs a Man, Me!

The saturation of this fornicating cultural standard is so ingrained in our culture that any man who purports to stand for “old-fashioned” values is sure to get a voluminous lecture from hosts of “independent” & “liberated” women. The shrill aside, the truth is that the disengagement from fathers has created a sea of unprotected women in our culture. These women may feel like they are safe behind their choice to engage in fornication willingly, but the fathers know the truth: they've cast their daughters like fish into shark-infested waters. Men know, all too well, the wickedness that lives in a lusting wolf’s heart, and they should know the only way to protect such valuable assets, is to keep them close to a shepherd.

The prevalence of such a toxic statistic must rest squarely on the shoulders of fathers.  Whether they were the one-night donor variety, or those well-intentioned dads raising their girls to make “good choices” in the big wide world. The data doesn’t lie, they’re not making “good choices,” they’re sitting ducks.

The Missing Data

Aside from the praises extolled for the decreases in teen births along with increases in births for those past their prime, the hidden aspect that isn’t being reported is the gruesome reality. Many women aren’t having children, not because they aren’t getting pregnant, but because they’re “preventing” and outright murdering their own children.

The Pill

The CDC’s National Health Statistics Report in October of 2012,  issued a report Current Contraceptive use in the United States from 2006-2012. “Use of contraception and the effectiveness of the method used to prevent pregnancy are major factors affecting national pregnancy and birth rates and the ability of women to plan their pregnancies.” A total of, “Sixty-two percent of women of reproductive age are currently using contraception.”

Not since 2008, when America was at an estimated 2.08 births per woman, has the country been even close to the replacement-rate for fertility (2.1 births per woman). The number of births per women has been dropping ever since, the most recent 2016 data being 1.818 births per woman.

From the report in 2012 the percentages of women doing their best to prevent births is staggering. Nationally this is still a source of pride, the CDC acknowledged, “Reducing the percentage of all pregnancies that are unintended has been one of the national health promotion (‘‘Healthy People’’) objectives since they were first established in 1980.” Defining unintended pregnancies is any which doesn’t conform to “family planning” perspectives. The report confirmed, “In 1999, family planning, defined as ‘the ability to achieve desired birth spacing and family size,’ was noted as 1 of 10 ‘achievements in public health’ in the 20th century because of its contributions to the health of infants, children, and women.”  

Roughly, the use of contraception has been heavily promoted by government officials, heartily embraced by large percentages of women, and quietly applauded by sex-charged men across the nation. Determining each individual's “desired birth spacing and family size,” is, of course, left entirely in the hands of the woman alone, with no vocal objection from the fruits of these unions (the “undesirables”). The cold truth is that “the pill” has absolutely NOTHING to do with medical necessity and is purely a chemical means to achieve a social result, barrenness.  

The pill has been marketed by school teachers, counselors, single women, and well-meaning grandmas as being the great facilitator of sexual and economic freedom—with all the freedom to pay down your student debt as well as you can muster. Despite all the planning to prevent pregnancy, women still do get pregnant!  That is if they still can. What this new pregnancy means is that there need to be some decisions about the future of the relationship between newly-pregnant couples. Unfortunately, our highly individualistically focused culture produces exactly what we individuals get: single-parent homes. Fatherless homes produce more “blessings” to our freedom loving society, blessings like high levels of poverty.

We just can’t seem to make good choices across the board.

Objects of Our Affection

You wouldn’t be able to tell from the birth data, but there is no reason to believe that the culture is having any less sex than they were before. Men and women are still engaging in rapturous amounts of fornication, so much so that we require increasing taxpayer funds to ensure there is no slowing to the games.

The existence of abortion aside, abortion services aren’t being offered because most women are being forced to get them.  There may be significant pressure, undoubtedly, especially the debt-ridden economic realities they’ve submitted themselves too. But many non-collegiate women are utilizing these services as well.  

As the CDC attests, the highest demographic for women receiving abortions are those in their “child-bearing” years. “In 2013 and throughout the period of analysis, women in their 20s accounted for the majority of abortions and had the highest abortion rates,” per the 2013 report. Including the data from the 30-34 year olds, American women in this group account for 75% of abortions nationwide, over 500,000 murders in 2013.

Outlawing abortions nationwide would bring an immediate rise in the number of births on the order of approximately a 12% increase. Pro-Life advocates will point to data that shows abortions at all time lows since Roe v. Wade. This is no doubt an encouragement, but the fact remains that while access to abortions should be eradicated, desire for abortion remains.

The World Doesn’t Like Babies

Returning to the data from whence we came we must arrive at the conclusion that the US just doesn’t want babies. The reasons for this spans a wide range of possibilities: being in school, not being able to take time away from work, not wanting to raise a child alone, or just enjoying the time without the extra responsibility. As Lee Yew noted in a Forbes article from 2012, “Living alone allows people to pursue individual freedom, exert personal control and go through self-realization, but these people have fewer children.”  We cannot expect to distance ourselves from understanding that ideas have consequences and the feminist agenda has consequences beyond each individual. As Yew notes, “The education of our women and their ability to be high-income earners have altered social behavior and led to marriages later in life. But when women put off having children until their mid-30s, they have fewer children.”

Ultimately, Americans understand that having a child basically means: giving something up we want, for someone else.  It comes down to denying ourselves for the greater good of another. This is not a new condition, nor is it isolated to the US only, yet this self-denying perspective does appear to be consistently waning in first-world nations.

It will take more than governmental policy to make lasting changes in a culture's perspective on family and child-rearing. Russia, who has implemented numerous types of policies to help spur baby making, still deals with the harsh reality that you have to sustain birth rates if you want to make lasting impact on your culture. Many nations are facing this problem and are in far worse condition than America is now. Japan and South Korea have fertility rates at 1.42 and 1.20 (2014) which are far enough below the replacement rate that their culture is literally dying. Even the world’s two most populous countries have both seen their fertility rate drop significantly between 1970 and 2014. India’s dropped from 5.5 to 2.4 a 56% decrease, while China’s dropped from 5.5 to 1.6 a 71% decrease and well below replacement level. The number of nations, as of 2010, at a sub-replacement level accounts for about 48% of world population (3.3 billion people).

What is abundantly clear is that highly productive industrial nations, the ones with the means to care for children haven’t made significant growth in their birth rate, quite the reverse. Despite the incredibly high standard of living and readily available food supply, the first world wants nothing to do with baby showers.

How Shall We Increase?

The decline in the US birth rate clearly has deeply ingrained ideological roots. Some news outlets have taken the time to discuss the data that has been released, but few (if any) have provided any substantive perspective on what are the causes of such a decline. Even less clear is whether we should be in sack cloth and ashes or celebrating the news. It appears that the temper of the American people is still one that has little interest in the information, much less understanding the drastic shift in perspective that would accompany an actual change in society. It may be interesting to talk about statistics and data, but when the data reveals the way we view the choices we’ve made, it becomes something far different.

In my subsequent article I will address how the Bible views children and how the church has and should respond to the data.  Are we in crisis?


Joe Graham

Joseph Graham is a husband and father of 9 children. He currently serves in the U.S. Navy and has a family business dedicated to “Encouraging Families and Building a Brighter Future.”

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