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Birth Rate Declines in 2013


National Fertility Chart 2013The number of births and the fertility rate in the United States declined between 2007 and 2013, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). “Births” represents a simple count of how many people were born in a given year. The fertility rate means births for each 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44.

The first chart at right shows the data. In 2013, there were 3,932,181 births in the USA, down 9% from their 2007 peak. The decline occurred among whites, blacks, and hispanics.

(Click on chart for larger view.)

The fertility rate declined 1% in 2013, to a record low of 62.5 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44. Since 2007, the rate has declined 10%, with the largest decline occurring among hispanics.

Births and the fertility rate are important environmental concerns because they greatly influence future world population. The more people there are in the world, and the higher their standard of living, the more environmental stress is created. A declining fertility rate may present economic and social challenges, but from an environmental perspective, it is good news.

Missouri Births 1990-2012 ChartBirths and fertility rates are also important from several other policy perspectives, such as health and welfare. The NCHS report shows that the fertility rate is declining among all age groups under 30 years old, but is increasing for age groups over 30. Thus, more older women are giving birth. In addition, the preterm birth rate declined in 2013, and has declined 10% since its peak in 2006 – a very important change for public health!

The number of births each year in Missouri has been cyclical since 1990, as shown in the second chart at right. Whether people choose to have children is often said to be related to the health of the economy, and that would seem to fit the pattern for Missouri.

2009 State Fertility ChartI found a table at the National Center for Health Statistics that showed fertility rate by state from 1990 – 2009. In 2009 Missouri’s fertility rate was 66.2 births per 1,000, 29th highest among the states (see third chart at right). Lowest in the country was Vermont, with a fertility rate of 50.8, and highest was Utah, with a fertility rate of 88.4.

Since 1990, Missouri’s fertility rate had declined by 2.65%, the 28th largest decline among the states (see fourth chart at right). California had a decline of 19.7%, the largest in the nation. Sixteen states had increased fertility rates, led by Wyoming, with an increase of 11.3%.

State Fertility Rates Change 1990-2009 ChartTime will tell whether the decline in fertility rate proves to be a long-term trend, or a temporary blip due to the Great Recession.


Martin, Joyce A., Brady E. Hamilton, and Michelle J.K. Osterman. 2014. Births in the United States, 2013. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Health Statistics. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db175.htm.

For the number of births in Missouri: Missouri Information for Community Assessment Data Portal, http://health.mo.gov/data/mica//BirthMCA.

For state fertility rate trends: National Center for Health Statistics. Birth, fertility, and total fertility rates: each State, 1990-2009. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data_access/vitalstats/VitalStats_Births.htm.

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