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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

Updated 7 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

8 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.