Apr 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Births dropped in 2023, ending pandemic baby boom

Annual U.S. total fertility rate, 1965 to 2023
Data:CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

The total number of U.S. births dropped in 2023, bringing an end to a mini-baby boom that began in the pandemic.

Why it matters: The drop in births helped plunge the U.S. fertility rate to its lowest point in nearly a century.

The big picture: Nearly 3.6 million babies were born in the U.S. last year, a 2% drop from 2022, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection released Thursday.

  • The U.S. fertility rate in 2023 amounted to about 1.62 births per woman — well below the "replacement rate" of 2.1 that would allow a generation to completely replace itself.

Zoom in: Birth rates fell among adult women younger than 40 and were unchanged for women in their 40s, the data shows.

  • The birth rate among teens aged 15-19 dropped 3%.
  • Birth rates declined across nearly all racial groups.

State of play: The provisional data shows a return to a broader downward trend in the nation's birth rate.

  • The total number of births in the U.S. declined an average of 2% per year from 2015 to 2020, then rose slightly in 2021 — but has now fallen off again.

Between the lines: The drop in birth rates comes as many Americans have struggled to come to grips with the impacts of inflation, high food prices, and high rents.

Go deeper: Remote work may have fueled a baby boom among U.S. women

Go deeper