Societal Costs of Record–Low Fertility Rates in Western Nations like the U.S. and Japan

This Feb. 16, 2017 file photo shows newborn babies in the nursery of a postpartum recovery center in upstate New York. Women in the United States gave birth last year at the lowest rate in three decades, a trend that could weigh on economic growth in future decades. The number of babies born in the U.S. has fallen for three straight years, and as births decline and the population ages, fewer Americans are available to work or start businesses, thereby slowing the economy.
This Feb. 16, 2017 file photo shows newborn babies in the nursery of a postpartum recovery center in upstate New York. Women in the United States gave birth last year at the lowest rate in three decades, a trend that could weigh on economic growth in future decades. The number of babies born in the U.S. has fallen for three straight years, and as births decline and the population ages, fewer Americans are available to work or start businesses, thereby slowing the economy. Seth Wenig / AP Photo
This Feb. 16, 2017 file photo shows newborn babies in the nursery of a postpartum recovery center in upstate New York. Women in the United States gave birth last year at the lowest rate in three decades, a trend that could weigh on economic growth in future decades. The number of babies born in the U.S. has fallen for three straight years, and as births decline and the population ages, fewer Americans are available to work or start businesses, thereby slowing the economy.
This Feb. 16, 2017 file photo shows newborn babies in the nursery of a postpartum recovery center in upstate New York. Women in the United States gave birth last year at the lowest rate in three decades, a trend that could weigh on economic growth in future decades. The number of babies born in the U.S. has fallen for three straight years, and as births decline and the population ages, fewer Americans are available to work or start businesses, thereby slowing the economy. Seth Wenig / AP Photo

Societal Costs of Record–Low Fertility Rates in Western Nations like the U.S. and Japan

The U.S. fertility rate is below levels at which our population can replace itself, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics. The total U.S. fertility rate in 2017 was 1,765.5 births per 1,000 women—16% below the level necessary for population replacement. The data follow years-long trends of declining fertility rates in America and several Western countries. Joining us to discuss the possible underlying causes for low fertility, and what they mean, is Heidi Nast, a professor at DePaul University. She studies cultures of motherhood, intimacy and reproduction.