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American women are having fewer babies than ever, according to recent CDC data.

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Axios Visuals

Between the lines: Even with low fertility rates, the overall population — along with GDP — will continue to grow until at least 2050, according to the Census projections. But this growth will increasingly rely on immigration.

Fertility rates tend to fall in response to a bad economy.

  • In the 1970s — as baby boomers entered the workforce, the pill and IUDs became more common, abortion was legalized, the oil shock hit and the economy struggled — the total fertility rate plummeted to levels near what we have today.
  • But it the late 1980s and onward during economic growth, it climbed to stay near replacement levels (2.1 births per woman), making the U.S. somewhat of an anomaly among developed economies, according to Global Aging Institute president Richard Jackson.

But during the current economic boom, fertility rates have been falling.

  • High costs of education, stagnant wages and more women working and delaying childbirth have all contributed, Richard Cincotta, director of the Global Political Demography Program at the Stimson Center, told Axios.
  • Whether fertility rates recover with the economy often depends on people's long-term expectations about future living standards, according to Jackson. "That's been seriously eroded since the Great Recession among millennials," he said. "They're not responding to the near-term economy because confidence in the long-term economy has been seriously dented."

What to watch: If fertility rates remain low or fall further, there could be fewer people entering the workforce in the future and GDP growth could slow, demographers say. Maintaining high levels of immigration could become even more important.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Janet Yellen confirmed as Treasury secretary

Janet Yellen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Senate voted 84-15 to confirm Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary on Monday.

Why it matters: Yellen is the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary, a Cabinet position that will be crucial in helping steer the country out of the pandemic-induced economic crisis.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Scoop: Red Sox strike out on deal to go public

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The parent company of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. has ended talks to sell a minority ownership stake to RedBall Acquisition, a SPAC formed by longtime baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, Axios has learned from multiple sources. An alternative investment, structured more like private equity, remains possible.

Why it matters: Red Sox fans won't be able to buy stock in the team any time soon.