The birthrate across the United States has been dropping for a while.
According to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2007 and 2022, the nationwide rate went down from 14.3 births per 1,000 people to 11.1 births
That is a 22.9% decrease.
“In the wake of the Great Recession, U.S. fertility tanked,” said Brad Wilcox, professor of sociology at the University of Virginia. “That was not a surprise to anyone, because when the economy is in distress, people tend to have fewer babies.”
However, the downward trend continued even after the economy rebounded.
“It has kind of left us scratching our heads about what is driving fertility down,” Wilcox said.
While the D.C. region had a similar decrease compared to the national figures between 2007 and 2022, it was not as steep as the 22.9% drop that was seen across the country.
In D.C. and Virginia, the drop was about 22%, and it was 19% in Maryland, according to the CDC.
Wilcox said falling marriage rates have likely played a role.
“A lot of guys who are not college-educated are struggling to maintain full-time employment,” Wilcox added.
He also put some of the blame on the rise of smartphones.
“That has been linked to declines in dating and sex, and of course that means fewer babies,” Wilcox said. “People are just spending a lot more time on their phones and less time dating, mating, having children and getting married.”
U.S. births were declining for more than a decade before COVID-19 hit, then dropped to a whopping 4% from 2019 to 2020.
They ticked up about 1% in 2021, an increase experts attributed to pregnancies that couples had put off amid the early days of the pandemic.
The U.S. was once among only a few developed countries with a fertility rate that ensured each generation had enough children to replace itself — about 2.1 kids per woman. But it’s been sliding, and in 2020, dropped to about 1.6, the lowest rate on record.
It rose slightly in 2021 to nearly 1.7, and stayed there last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.