Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Baby Data Dump

I have an interest in demographics and have written about it from time to time in BeeLine.

It is a window to the future that is too often overlooked or ignored.  The long-term trends are often the most difficult to see in the 24 hour news cycle world we live in today.  In this day and age when there is so much focus on the trees (even the leaves at times!), demographics forces you to look at the forest.

I have been tracking U.S. birth rates for a number of years. The birth rate data for 2015 was recently released by the National Vital Statistics System section of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A few factoids from the report.

  • There were 3,978,497 reported births in the U.S. in 2015
    • That is 1% lower than in 2014
  • 40.3% of the births were to unmarried women
    • In 1960, only 5.3% of birth were to unwed mothers as shown in the chart below.
    • 70.1% of black babies and 53% of Hispanic babies were born to unwed mothers in 2015.
    • Rate for Whites is 36.8% and Asians is 16.4%

Credit: Child Trends Databank

  • There are more babies born to mothers in the age 25-29 age group than any other age cohort. The age 30-34 cohort now has more babies than does the age 20-24 group.
    • However, the birth rate per 1,000 for women 25-29 and 20-24 is the lowest it has ever been in the history of the U.S.
    • The total fertility rate for all women over their lifetimes is 1.84 children. This is below the 2.1 replacement rate necessary to maintain a stable population. It has been below this level since 1971.
  • Teen births continue to decline.
    • Teen births are at a record low. Births to teens are 46% below their levels in 2007 and  about 1/3 of what they were in 1960.
  • Births of twins dropped slightly from its all-time high in 2014---33.5 per 1,000 births compared to 33.9 in 2014. Triplets and higher-order births are decreasing---down 46% since 1998 peak.
    • There were 133,115 sets of twins born during the year
    • 24 sets of quintuplets were born during the year. These births used to get all sorts of publicity. When is the last time you saw anything about this on the news?
  • Six women of age 19 had their 8th child  (or more) during 2015! (Are you kidding me?)
    • Three Hispanic women, Two white women, one black woman 
  • 754 women age 50-54 gave birth to a child during the year
    • 232 were first births (Congratulations! However, these mothers will be eligible for Social Security and Medicare when their kids are teenagers. Good luck as well!)

The chart below shows births from 1950 through 2015 in order to give you some better perspective on historical birth rates.  This is a chart that I have been tracking since the early 1990's.

You can see the Baby Boom period which existed up until 1965. It was followed by what I call the Baby Dearth period which lasted roughly from 1966-1986. There was not one year in this 20-year period in which births were above 3.8 million.

1986 to 2009 might be called the Baby Boom Echo period.

However, since 2010 there has not been one year in which births have exceeded 4 million.

Where are we headed with births in the future?

Boom or bust?

It is already a bust in most of the rest of the developed world. And the UN expects that trend to continue and extend to the rest of the world between now and 2050 until most countries are below the replacement rate.

Why does it matter?

Economies need people.  They need them to invent things, build things and to buy things.  They need them to invest and innovate.  They need them to start new businesses.  They need them to pay taxes. If you don't have a supply of new people replacing older people in a society you begin to shrink and you eventually shrivel away.

When the old outnumber the young you are heading for big problems. Who buys the real estate that has been built? Does a 60-year want to start a business?  Most inventions and innovations have historically come from those in their 20's and 30's than in their 50's and 60's.  Thomas Edison invented the phonograph at age 30.  Alexander Graham Bell was 29 when he invented the telephone. Steve Wozniak invented the Apple I computer at age 26. Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both age 25 when they incorporated Google.  If you don't replenish with enough young blood, you really do die as an economy and and as a society.

We are already in uncharted territory in historical terms on birth rates. It could become even more uncharted in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment