Thirty-five states have fewer children than five years ago due to declining birth rates nationwide and families moving to different areas to escape rocketing housing prices, new figures show.
California, Illinois and New Mexico, had the biggest decrease, dropping by six percent between 2017 and 2022, according to a Stateline analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
It was reported that high housing costs was a factor as families have moved for a lower cost of living. That has led to a decline in school attendance and now school staff are facing the possibility of layoffs.
Fertility rates have been historically low since 2010. There were 15 states -including Idaho and North Dakota – that gained children in population with the largest increase at 4 percent.
There are 35 states with fewer children than five years ago due to declining birth rates nationwide and families moving across state lines to escape rising housing prices
California, Illinois and New Mexico, had the biggest decrease, dropping by six percent between 2017 and 2022, according to a Stateline analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data
Hans Johnson, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, wrote in a report in January that California’s fertility rate dropped from 2.15 per woman in 2008 to 1.52 in 2020.
He also talked about how more and more families are moving out of state for a lower cost of living, which contributes to the drop in child population numbers.
‘People want to buy a house and have children, but they realize they can’t do it here so they look in the vicinity, states close by, and work remotely so they can keep their California paychecks,’ Johnson said.
Along with California, Illinois and New Mexico, have also seen lowest school enrollment in recent years since the pandemic.
Between 2012 and 2022, school enrollment in New Mexico declined by 22 percent in the majority-Native Central Consolidated Schools in San Juan County, according to the report. This is compared to a statewide decline of 7 percent.
Central Consolidated school board President Christina Aspaas told news outlets that a recent mine closure forced many families to move away in order to find jobs.
‘A lot of Navajo workers who were employed had to relocate to Phoenix or elsewhere out of state to earn the same wages,’ Aspaas said.
‘It affected the local tribes, Hopi and Navajo, Diné. Seeing the impacts makes my heart break. These are all my children, and they deserve the best in education and in life.’
On the other side, states including Idaho, North Dakota and Florida are seeing an increase in school enrollment in recent years.
Jaap Vos, a planning professor at the University of Idaho in Boise, relocated from Florida to Idaho ‘when it was still the middle of nowhere,’ he said, adding that the state has become known as a picturesque and affordable place to raise children.
The state has also seen an influx of people migrating from Northern California, Washington and Utah.
‘It might be for ideological reasons, people looking for a more conservative lifestyle,’ Vos said.
Florida had the third-highest increase in child population between 2017 and 2022, at two percent, the data revealed, citing Hispanic births.
The fertility rate of the US (green) and UK (orange) rapidly fell in the 1970s, and despite occasional small rebounds have continued a steady decline over the years
The global fertility rate has dropped 51% between 1970 and 2020, from 4.9 children per woman to just 2.3. If it falls below 2.1 the global population will begin to fall, experts warn. The birth rate has dropped in much of the developed world, with just African nations remaining top
Stefan Rayer, director of the population program at the state Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said: ‘Unless births increase substantially, because of the aging of Florida’s population, the state will likely see natural decrease for the foreseeable future, with all growth coming from migration.’
In 2020, the global average fertility rate – the average number of children born to each woman – was 2.3, compared to 4.7 in 1970 — a staggering 51 percent drop over a half-century. Swathes of Europe and North America are recording fewer than a two births per woman average.
Meanwhile, as fertility rates shrink in much of the world, they continues to grow in Africa. Thirty-one of the top 32 countries with the highest fertility rates are on the continent, with Niger in the first spot with a rate of 6.9 children per woman.
South Korea finds itself holding the dubious honor of having the world’s lowest fertility rate, with each woman having 0.8 children, on average. In both the US and the UK, the fertility rate in 2020 was 1.6.
The graphic by Visual Capitalist gathered data from the World Bank, an international developmental organization led by world governments dating from 1960 to 2020.
The downward trend in fertility rates in the developed world is the result of multiple factors.
Women are having children much later in life as they prioritize careers.
Couples are also settling down and getting married much later, which narrows women’s biological window to have children. Declining fertility among men is also thought to be playing a role, linked to poor diet and sedentary lifestyles.
Fertility in the US has plummeted in recent decades (top). The average American woman is now only having 1.6 children throughout her life, well below replacement level of 2.1. It is a 15 percent drop from the rate of 1.9 in 2010. North Dakota, South Dakota and Alaska are America’s most fertile states, with more than 65 annual births per 1,000 fertile aged women (center left). Fertility rates dropped the most since 2005 in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and California (center right)
According to the World Bank data, 106 nations have fertility rates below 2.1, a benchmark experts say is needed for a country to maintain its current population. Three countries – South Korea, Hong Kong and Puerto Rico – have rates below 1.0.
Also among the worst in the world are Macau (1.0 fertility rate), Singapore (1.1), Malta (1.1), Ukraine (1.2), Spain (1.2), Italy (1.2) and China (1.3).
All of the world’s leaders in fertility rate are in Africa.
Somalia (6.4), Chad (6.4), The Democratic Republic of the Congo (6.2), Mali (6.0) and the Central African Republic (6.0) make up the top five countries in terms of fertility rates, all of which have rates of over 6.0.
Countries leading the world in fertility are generally poorer nations that score poorly on developmental indexes, have poorer sexual education and access to contraception.