Tim Drake is an award-winning writer and former journalist and radio host with the National Catholic Register/EWTN. He currently serves as New Evangelization Coordinator for the Holdingford Area Catholic Community in the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. He resides with his wife and five children in St. Joseph, Minn.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the U.S. has joined ranks with several European countries. The country’s birthrate fell to 2% in 2008, putting it below the population replacement level of 2.1 children per woman.
“The 2008 preliminary estimate of the total fertility rate was 2,085.5 births per 1,000 women, 2 % lower than the rate in 2007,” said the report.
That figure means that American women are no longer giving birth to enough children to keep the population from declining.
A corresponding Pew Research Study, which attempts to link the decline to the recession, found that only five states had gains in their fertility rates. Those states were: Alabama, Hawaii, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Washington.
An interesting observation from the government report is that the birthrate fell for nearly every age category of woman. The only age categories in which the birthrate increased was among women aged 40-44 and 45-49.
One alarming finding from the study is that childbearing by unmarried women reached historic levels in 2008. The 2008 total is up 27% from 2002, when the increase began. The proportion of all births to unmarried women increased to 40.6% in 2008, up from 39.7% in 2007. The percent of non-marital births increased significantly in 39 states. Teenagers account for 22% of all non-marital births in 2008.