American women aren’t making babies like they used to. According to the latest government stats, the U.S. pregnancy rate is at a 12-year low, with 102.1 pregnancies per 1,000 women in 2009 — the lowest numbers since the Clinton impeachment hearings, when sex was in the news, though apparently not in the air.
But while some of the “variety of social and economic factors” affecting the nation’s reproductive rates are downers (the report observes, incisively, that “the declining economy…has likely played a role”), our impending obsolescence isn’t necessarily as depressing as it sounds. Teen rates, for example, were lower than ever, likely thanks to “increased likelihood to wear condoms,” combined with a general decrease in overall teen sex. And while women in their 20s may be putting off starting families in record numbers, pregnancy rates for women in the first part of their thirties are actually up a little.
Researchers note, though, that the pregnancy rate “does not directly correlate with the nation’s birth rate.” Since the birth rate doesn’t consider pregnancies that weren’t carried to term, fewer pregnancies don’t necessarily mean fewer babies. 2012 population data does suggest that the general baby-count declined last year, but the drop off was less steep than it had been in the past. More up-to-date, not-from-2009 abortion stats “will help determine whether pregnancy rates have leveled off as well.”
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