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The U.S. fertility rates have hit record lows in 2023, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of babies born in the U.S. dropped by 2% from the previous year, with just under 3.6 million babies born in 2023. This decline is part of a longstanding trend of decreasing birth rates in the country, with a general annual decline of 1-2% over the past decade. The Covid-19 pandemic saw a temporary increase in birth rates followed by a return to the downward trend.

The birth rate for women of childbearing age was 54.4 births per 1,000, down 3% from the year before and the lowest since record-keeping began. Teen birth rates also hit a new low, with 13.2 births for every 1,000 teens ages 15 to 19. Cesarean delivery rates also increased, accounting for almost a third of all deliveries, with the highest rates seen among Black mothers. These trends raise concerns about reproductive healthcare in the U.S.

The U.S. fertility rate for 2023 is well below the replacement rate threshold, which is the rate needed for the current generation to replace itself. The country has been below this threshold since 1971 and consistently since 2007. The decline in birth rates comes at a time of growing concerns over access to reproductive healthcare, abortion access, the economy, rights for working parents, and the future of the planet. This trend is not unique to the U.S. and is part of a global demographic shift that will have major implications for the world economy and society.

Many countries, including China and Japan, have been struggling with declining birth rates and are trying to encourage people to have more children. A birth rate below replacement levels signals a future of sluggish growth, an aging population, and potential shortages in the labor force. Policymakers, scientists, and officials are increasingly concerned about the implications of these demographic changes and are working to address the issues surrounding declining birth rates. The future may bring major shifts in power and challenges in maintaining economies and caring for aging populations.

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