A predicted baby boom failed to materialize in the United States in 2020, with births down four percent compared to the year before despite Covid-19 lockdowns, an official report said Wednesday.
Some 3.6 million babies were born in 2020, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). It was the sixth consecutive year that births have declined after an increase in 2014, and the lowest number of births since 1979.
The provisional total fertility rate was 1,637.5 births per 1,000 women, which equates to 1.6 children per woman -- well below the 2.1 required to ensure each generation at least replaces itself.
Births were down across each racial group, but fell most markedly among Asian Americans -- an eight percent drop on the year before -- followed by Native Americans, where the fall was six percent.
The declines were four percent for white and Black women, and three percent for Hispanic.
Births were also down in all age groups.
This notably included a two percent decline among women aged 40-44, a demographic that had seen a nearly continuous rise in births from 1985 to 2019.
The NCHS said it was not possible to determine whether the pandemic itself had an impact on fertility because the latest data was in line with recent trends.