A record number of women in their 40s are having children, according to official data, as the birth rate continues to fall in younger age groups.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the birth rate for women aged 40 to 44 rose 4% in 2022 from the previous year to reach a record high.
There was also a 12% increase among women aged 45 to 49, the first change in this rate since 2015, and to another record high.
Experts say more and more people are putting off starting a family until later in life, choosing instead to focus on careers, travel and social life in their younger years. The rise of technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) and egg freezing has also played a role.
The rise among older women comes as the US fertility rate hovers just below 1.7 births per woman. It hit an all-time high in 2020 at 1.6 when the pandemic led many couples to put off having children.
The map above shows the percentage change in the number of births registered in 2022 from the previous year by state. New Mexico, Washington DC and North Dakota saw the steepest declines. At the other end of the scale, however, Texas, Florida and Delaware saw the steepest increases.
The chart above shows the US fertility rate or number of children per woman per year. It currently sits at 1.7 per woman as it continues to decline
Dr. Joshua Goldstein, director of the population center at the University of California, Berkeley, said BNC News than the lower fertility rate’probably means that more women are having children when they want to have them”.
He continued: “They had a better chance of getting a better education, a better chance of finding the right partner, a better chance of excelling in their careers.”
‘It’s not the size of the next generation that matters. This is the contribution that the generation can make. The fact that women can have children at any age they want and invest in those children is a positive thing.
For women aged 40 to 44, the fertility rate was 12.5 births per 1,000 women, while for those in the older age group, it was 1.1 per 1,000.
There was also a slight increase in the birth rate among women in their late thirties, where it increased by 2% to 54.9 per 1,000.
But birth rates continued to fall among women aged 20 to 34 – and hit an all-time high among those aged 20 to 24.
Among teenage girls, the rate hit a record low of 13.9 births per 1,000 women in the age group – after falling 8% from 2007 to 2021.
Official data showed there were 3,000 fewer babies born globally last year compared to 2021.
The CDC report, released today, says 3.661 million births were registered in 2022, down just under one percent from the previous year.
The chart above shows birth rates by different age groups. It shows that although there has been a slowdown in the younger age groups, the older ones have seen a persistent rise
This map shows the total number of births by state. States like Texas, California, Florida and New York – which are the most populous – led the pack
This graph highlights the average age of women at their first birth. This number continues to rise as more and more people put off having children.
This was a less steep decline from 2019 to 2020, when it fell 4% amid the pandemic.
But that marked a change from 2020 and 2021, when the birth rate rose 1% – likely as couples reported having children.
America’s fertility rate has been falling for decades, which experts have blamed on the “Instagram” generation that prioritizes careers, travel and their social lives over having babies.
Others have also raised concerns about the rising cost of living and student debt, which they say leaves many people feeling financially unable to start a family until later in life.
Health officials stressed that the data was provisional, but with more than 99% of births counted, it indicates that the birth rate continues to fall.
Dr. Phil Levine, an economist at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, explained to CNN that when women have children later, they tend to have fewer children.
The US birth rate has been falling for decades as more people prioritize their careers and say it is now too expensive to have children.
In the 1800s, when records began, American women had about seven children each.
But that figure has fallen steadily in previous years, hitting three per woman in the 1900s and then falling below two in the 2010s – the rate needed to sustain the current population.
The US birth rate fell 4% in 2020 to an all-time low amid the Covid pandemic as many couples put off having children.
It rebounded 1% in 2021 as pandemic restrictions eased to 3.664 million, but the latest data suggests it is now returning to a period of decline.
In the latest report, data shows that 38 out of 50 states plus Washington DC saw fewer births in 2022 compared to the previous year.
The steepest slowdown occurred in New Mexico (eight percent), followed by the District of Columbia (seven percent), North Dakota (five percent) and New Hampshire (four percent).
At the other end of the scale was Texas (up 4%), followed by Florida (also up 4%) and Delaware (up 3%).
Experts have previously warned that the low birth rate could lead to economic devastation in America down the line, as the federal government would have to collect more taxes to fund programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Dr Melissa Kearney, professor of economics at the University of Maryland, previously told DailyMail.com: ‘There has been a greater emphasis on spending time building careers.
“Adults are changing their attitude towards having children.
“They choose to spend money and time in different ways… [that] conflict with parenthood.
She added that young people are also showing more interest in hobbies and travel than before, in addition to career building.
‘[Wanting to travel] just clashes with parenthood,” she said.
Many pointed to high childcare costs, student debt held by Americans in their early 20s and other financial pressures for declining birth rates.