Home » Population » Births and Birth Rate Decline in 2018

Births and Birth Rate Decline in 2018


Figure 1. Source: Hamilton, Martin, Osterman, and Rossen, 2019.

In 2018, 3,788,235 live births occurred in the United States, according to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. That is down from 3,855,500 in 2017, a decline of 2%. Figure 1 shows the trend in the data from 1990 to 2018. The number of births is the blue line, and it should be read against the left vertical axis. The fertility rate (the number of births per 1,000 women of child-bearing age) is shown as a green line, and it should be read against the right vertical axis.

The chart shows that both declined through 1997, then rose from 1997 to 2008, then began declining again. Overall, births have declined a little more than 10% since 1990. The fertility rate has declined by about 15% since then.

Every person in this world has an environmental footprint; we consume resources and create pollution. You can reduce the average environmental footprint, but you can’t eliminate it. The United States has the 7th highest per capita environmental footprint in the world, outranked only by Qatar, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Trinidad and Tobago. Thus, the population of the United States is very important environmentally.

Figure 2. Data source: Missouri Information for Community Assessment.

According to the report, the number of births in Missouri in 2018 was 73,222. The report does not contain historical data for individual states, but data for 1990-2017 can be found on MICA, the Missouri Information for Community Assessment database. In Figure 2, the blue line represents the number of births, and it should be read against the left vertical axis. The MICA data does not include 2018, that has been added from the CDC report. The red line represents the fertility rate, and should be read against the right vertical axis.

The series are very similar, and they parallel the general shape of the data for the whole United States: the number of births and birth rate fell during the 1990s, then rose until around 2007, and have fallen since then.

Comparing the national fertility rate to that in Missouri, it appears that in 2017, the last year for which data was available in both jurisdictions, the national birth rate was just over 60 births per 1,000, while in Missouri it was 62. That doesn’t seem like a big difference, but multiplied over millions of people, it is substantial.

The report contains additional data regarding the race and ethnicity of the mothers giving birth, their age (teen births are a particular concern) and other characteristics.


Global Footprint Network. Compare Countries. Data portal. Data for  2016 for “ecological footprint (gha per person).” Viewed online 6/7/2019 at http://data.footprintnetwork.org/#/compareCountries?type=EFCpc&cn=all&yr=2016.

Hamilton BE, Martin JA, Osterman MJK, Rossen LM. Births: Provisional data for 2018. Vital Statistics Rapid Release; no 7. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. May 2019.

Missouri data generated 5/18/2019 on the Missouri Information for Community Assessment database (MICA): https://healthapps.dhss.mo.gov/MoPhims/MICAHome.

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