2023 Provisional US Fertility Rate Falls Again

Close on the heels of the 2022 final birth data issued earlier this month, which showed national fertility rate declines but a notable rise in Texas–the only state at the time with births affected by an abortion ban, the CDC has just shared their provisional birth data for 2023

This 2023 data set does not include fertility rates for units smaller than the nation, so state by state analysis will come later. The granular data will show the effects of abortion bans on the roughly one half of US states that now have some level of restriction, including variation across race/ethnicity and age.

The national data show that, continuing the pattern of decline over the past 16 years, the overall US fertility rate fell to a new low in 2023, at 54.4 births per 1000 women aged 15-44, a fall of 2.9% from 2022. Teen births fell by 3% nationally, contributing to a 68.2% fall in the teen fertility rate since 2007. The fertility rate for women 20-24 fell 4% in 2023, with a 47.5% fall since 2007. The rate for women 25-29 fell 3%, for women 30-34 fell 2%, and the rate for women 35-39 fell 1%, while the rates for women 40-44 and 45-49 were unchanged. See chart below for overview.

Where rates for women 25-39 had been on an upswing over the past two years (suggesting a ripple effect of delay, as discussed in earlier posts), that pattern broke in 2023, with declines in all age groups 15-39 and stasis in the rates for women 40-49. Further data and analysis may clarify why some older women might be refraining from becoming pregnant, in a context where many states now refuse care to women with problematic pregnancies.


Ripple Effects of Delay – 2022 Birth Data

In 2022, per the CDC‘s newly issued final birth data report for that year, the overall fertility rate fell 1%, and the ripple effect pattern of delay evidenced in 2021 continued. Births among women under 25 continued to decline, while births among women 25 and over continued to rise (excepting rates for women 30-34, which remained essentially unchanged, falling 0.1%, after a 2.8% rise in 2021). Fertility rates for teens declined 2%, rates fell 7% for women aged 20–24, rose 1% for women 25–29, 3% for women 35-39, 5% for women 40–44, and rose 12% for women aged 45-49 (the first % increase since 2016).

2022 continued both a 19.2% overall fertility rate decline since 2007 (including slight rises in 2014 and 2021) and a 67.2% steady decline in births to teens 15-19 over the past 15 years – from 41.5 births per thousand women 15-19 down to 13.6. This radical change in teen births has created big workforce ripple effects (see my piece on the New Pronatalism, below ).

Among women having a first birth in 2022, the trends continued among women in all age sectors, with rates declining among women 24 and under and rising among women 25 and older.

The average age of mother at first birth rose to a new high of 27.4. The total fertility rate (the predicted total number of births / woman at current rates) declined to 1.65 births / woman. Fertility rates declined for unmarried women but increased for married women. The 2022 nonmarital fertility rate at 37.2 births/1,000 unmarried females aged 15-44 was 28% lower than the peak of 51.8 in 2007 and 2008 – and seems directly related to the fall in births to younger women. The fertility rate for married women increased 1% in 2022, to 84.2 per 1,000 married females aged 15-44.

Post-Abortion-Ban Effects

Births in 2022 were unaffected by the Dobbs decision, since that was handed down in June 2022, and any sequent births due to lack of abortion access in ban states occurred in 2023 and after. The 2023 data will be out in the CDC’s provisional report later this year and in the final report likely in Spring 2025.

Data on 2022 births in Texas after the 6-week abortion ban that went into effect in 2021 are reported in UH IRWGS’s 2022 Texas Repro Health update.


UH-IRWGS Texas & Harris County Reproductive Health Update: 2022 Fertility Rates, post 2021 Six-Week Abortion Ban

TX & HC 2022 overall fertility rates rose, led by Hispanic women 25-44. Teen overall fertility rates rose for first time in 15 years, while national rate fell. Fertility rates and birth timing trends varied by race/ethnicity.

The 2022 overall fertility rate rose 2% in Texas and 2.9% in Harris County after Texas’s 2021 six-week abortion ban (see Figures 1 & 2), most markedly among Hispanic Women and specifically among Hispanic women 25-44 years old, who saw aggregated fertility rate rises of 8.0% and 8.5%, respectively, while rate changes for Non-Hispanic (NH) women 25-44 were much lower.

Texas and Harris County teen fertility rates (for women 15 to 19) rose for the first time in 15 years though the national fertility rate continued to fall. The effect on Texas teen fertility rates also differed by race/ ethnicity: while fertility rates rose among Hispanic, NH Black and NH Asian teens in 2022, they continued to fall among NH White teens.

Published January 2024

Link to synopsis

Link to full report


Rippling Effects of Delay in 2021 – as Birth Rates Rise among Older Women, Continue to Fall among Women 15-24

In 2021, per the CDC, the US birth rate rose nationally by 1%from 56 births / 1,000 fertile women (those 15 to 44 years old) to 56.6 births, regaining some of the 4% loss in 2020.

2020. Among 2020 births only those in December (babies conceived in March) would be directly affected by Covid-19. That would have been a pretty big quarantine effect if the decline were all due to Covid (though certainly a rise in abortions and/or miscarriages due to Covid-19 could also have played in). Instead, the 2020 decline seems to be largely an ongoing effect of the decline underway since 2007 (-19.2% 2007-2020). 

2021. The recently released 2021 data reveals that the 13-year fairly steady decline in births (this was the first rise since 2014) was curtailed in the remainder of 2020 and the first part of 2021, though we can’t yet tell how that maps onto the pandemic (it would be nice to see the data broken out by month). But the 2021 rise was small, especially relative to the 4% decline the year prior.

Notably most of the 2021 rise in births was to women 25 and over. Births to teens continued to decline in 2021, falling by 6% in 2021, for a total fall since the start of the recession in 2007 of 65.4%. Much of that fall is due to the use of LARCs (Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives), and it seems not to have been affected by the Covid rise (the decline among teens may even have been furthered by the quarantine). Likewise women 20-24 continued to see a decline in births – by 2% in 2021, for a total fall since 2007 of 41.7%.

This suggests we may be beginning to see some the “ripple effect of delay” predicted here in prior years, whereby young women who chose not to start families in their teens begin to have them later. Births to women 25-29 rose 2%, to women 30-34 rose 3%, to women 35-39 rose 5%, and among women 40 and over, 3%.

But since the Provisional Birth Data Report published last week doesn’t break out births by birth order, we’ll have to wait for the Final 2021 birth data (likely in November, at the earliest) to get a real sense — since only then will we see that data and be able to tell if 2021’s 1% rise mostly involved older women having their first birth or a later child. Or if the rise occurred across both groups.


US Birth Rate Falls 4% in 2020 across All Age Groups, including a 7.8% Decline among Teens

In 2020, the world’s first year of living dangerously with Covid, a smaller share of Americans had children than in the year prior. Most of this birth rate fall was part of the ongoing trend toward decline that has been underway since 2007 (December 2007 saw the start of the Great Recession, which ended in June 2009).

Because the pandemic started in March 2020, the only month in which children born in 2020 were conceived during the pandemic was December (children conceived in April 2020 = born in 2021), though decisions around termination of pregnancies conceived before March may have been affected by the pandemic as well. Potential parents’ choices around procreation over the rest of 2020 and beyond will only be fully apparent when we see the birth data for 2021.

The overall birth rate fell from 58.3 births per fertile woman (age 15-44) in 2019 to 56 in 2020, a decline of 4%. Since 2007, the birth rate among US women overall has fallen 19.2%.

Births to teens (age 15-19) fell from 16.7 in 2019 to 15.4 in 2020, a decline of 7.8%. This seems likely to have been affected by both increased use of contraception and diminished social contact due to quarantines in March 2020. Since 2007, the birth rate among US teens 15-19 has fallen 62.9%, due in major part to the availability of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs). This links to an increased ability among teens to complete high school and establish at work (high school graduation rates increased by 7 percentage points, from 79% to 86%, between 2010 and 2019, per the National Center for Education Statistics – further data yet to be released).

Rates to non-teens decreased across the board between 2019 and 2020, as follows: The birthrate for women 20-24 declined 5.4%; the rate for women 25-29 declined 3.7%; for women 30-34 it was 3.5%; for women 35-39, 1.9%; and for women 40-44 the rate declined 1.7% between 2019 and 2020. Of these rates, all had been falling previously except those for women 35-39 and 40-44.

Longer term, between 2007 and 2020, the birthrates for teens (as noted above) declined 62.9%. For women 20-24 the rate declined 40.2%; the rate for women 25-29 declined 23.6%; for women 30-34 it was 5.6%; for women 35-39, the birth rate rose 8.8%; and for women 40-44 the rate rose 22.9%. This suggests an ongoing pattern of delayed childbearing as well as what may prove to be an increase in the proportion of women (and men) remaining childfree. Women who refrain from having children early on may still raise the same number of children if they start later, but we won’t know the overall ripple effect of delay on individuals’ total fertility until those in their teens and 20s in 2007 and after reach their mid 40s. Delay will also affect individuals’ education, workforce-participation and earning levels.


Apparition of Splendor: Marianne Moore Performing Democracy through Celebrity, 1952-1970

Happy to share a quick introduction to my new book – out in 2021 from U Delaware Press/Rutgers UP. Link to Rosenbach Book Talk.

Until recently, the 53 poems of Marianne Moore’s last two decades (23 published in the New Yorker) have been largely ignored by critics. Apparition of Splendor examines them as a distinct set, exploring the wide range of issues they engage with or raise, offering in-depth readings of many and arguing that the later work is interesting and rich – and worthy of further study.

MM’s Collected Poems won 3 major prizes* in one year (1952) and she became well known as a “prize winner.” In this period, Moore created a celebrity performance persona, which often involved her crossdressing as George Washington. Her work appeared in print in venues of all brow levels as did many stories about her, and she appeared widely—at readings, at events and on TV and on radio, engaging and entertaining her enormous audience of fans. 

[*The Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the Bollingen Prize.]

Moore began her poetic career in the 19-teens and twenties as among the “highest” of “high moderns” (read: pretty obscure to the general reading public). But ever since those early days, she had already been evolving her work to make it more accessible, to a wider audience – through emotion and humor. She became widely known during WW2 as a patriotic poet, through poems like “What Are Years?” and “In Distrust of Merits.”

In the postwar context of new, democratizing mass media and a heightened celebrity culture that crossed classes and tastes, Moore presented thought-provoking material in new and entertaining ways in order to engage and amuse audiences of all brow levels, in a range of popular journals. Her readers might reflect on this material or not, to the extent they preferred, but all would confront difference in some form in engaging with Moore and her poetry and learn something about democracy and diversity from that encounter.

Whereas her early poems enacted authority through an elite position even as they questioned the hierarchies that position rested upon, her later poems continued that questioning from a popular position that allowed her to advance a democratic agenda through a performance that combined comedy with serious cultural reflection, often on issues of equity and access.

Among the topics touched on in AOS:  

Moore’s comedic performance / persona

•her democratic / anti-racist poetry

•her habitual ekphrases

•her inclusive poetry of current events & shared culture

•her celebrity activism

•her cross-brow / high-low poetry

•her modeling nonconformist sexuality 

•her poetry’s relation to younger contemporaries’

•the dialogue among her poems

•her many poems about aging, death & legacy

•her “reveal and veil” presence in poems

•her work’s dialogues with Blake and others

•her occasional poetry – and later readers

•the evolution of her poetics over decades

•the role of shape and form (literal images)

•her modeling elderly female authority

•her habits of revision and omission

•and more!

Photo by Esther Bubley, 1953, appeared in Life Magazine as part of a story on Moore’s amusingly incongruous persona. Note the tools/weaponry at right.