Better-educated American women are choosing their careers over childbearing, leading to a record-low population decline since the 1980s.
US birth rates have fallen their lowest levels since the 1980s, according to a recent study conducted by a US centre devoted to studying demographic changes.
Several reasons have been attributed to the decline, according to the National Centre for Health Statistics.
These include economic recession, more women joining the workforce and government efforts to limit migration.
The research shows that the total fertility rate fell 2 percent in 2018 from 2017, putting the birth rate well below the two-children-per-family target, at just over 1,700 per 1,000 women.
“Fertility rates are reaching record lows,” said Brady Hamilton, a demography researcher who lead the report.
Hamilton noted that the seven-percent decline in the teenage birth rate last year was the most significant statistic among the findings.
But experts say the decline in US birth rates cannot solely be justified by precarious economic times since even during the Great Depression, the country’s total fertility rate was significantly higher than it is now, according to data within the study.
“There’s no question that part of it … is economic. It’s very expensive to raise children these days. But it’s partly social — all the changes in women’s roles,” Donna Strobino, professor and chair of education, population, family and reproductive health at Johns Hopkins University, told NBC.
“We’re clearly in the throes of major social change with regards to women getting married and choosing to have children,” Strobino said.
The research showed that increasingly qualified American women tend to think about getting married and having children after securing their career targets, which means they are having children in their late 30s and early 40s .
"I have seen numerous couples who have waited too long. Some have been married for more than 10 years before they think about having kids. There have been many advances in fertility treatment, but there is still no treatment for reproductive aging,” said Helen Kim, an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University.
But US fertility rates are still faring better than in Europe and Japan, according to experts and World Bank figures.
The decline also means that the country will eventually have more elderly citizens, which means the country will needs more migrants to fill the gap in the labour force, a fact that will no doubt be a challenge amid the immigration caps placed by the Trump administration.