Oct 17, 2023 - News

D.C.'s birth rate sees sharp decline over last 15 years

Data: CDC. Chart: Axios Visuals

D.C.'s birth rate fell dramatically between 2007 and 2022, dropping from 15.4 births per 1,000 people to 12, according to new CDC data.

Why it matters: The birth rate is closely watched because it affects population figures and can give clues about the economy.

The big picture: The nationwide birth rate declined 23% between 2007 and 2022, dropping from 14.3 births per 1,000 people to 11.1.

  • Maryland's birth rate declined 19.2%, while Virginia's dropped 21.6%.

Between the lines: Birth rates tend to fall as income rises, meaning lower birth rates can be a reflection of greater prosperity at both the national and individual levels. (Many factors drive this, including a sense among wealthier people that they need fewer children to support them financially as they age.)

Yes, but: The opposite can also be true, as people who feel they can't afford children choose not to have them.

  • Some fear that if the birth rate dips too low, it will bring about a crisis where there are too few young people to care for an aging populace. (This is a particularly salient issue in Japan, which has among the world's oldest populations and where the birth rate fell to a record low last year.)

The intrigue: Census data shows the median household income dropped almost 4% in the D.C. region during the pandemic, but the share of residents earning more than $100,000 grew.

Of note: Lower birth rates can also be an indication of better access to contraception, family planning, and abortion care.


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