U.S. births increased last year for the first time in seven years, according to federal figures out on Tuesday that offer the latest indication the pandemic baby bust was smaller than expected.
American women had about 3.66 million babies in 2021, up 1% from the prior year, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. It was the first increase since 2014. The rebound spanned age groups, with birthrates rising for every cohort of women age 25 and older.
Births still remain at historically low levels after peaking in 2007 and then plummeting during the recession that began at the end of that year. The total fertility rate — a snapshot of the average number of babies a woman would have over her lifetime — was 1.66 last year, up from 1.64 the prior year, when it fell to the lowest level since the government began tracking it in the 1930s.
New data on U.S. births suggest that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a smaller-than-expected baby bust.
The U.S. saw about 7,000 fewer births through the first nine months of 2021 compared with the same period the year prior, according to provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The numbers reflect conceptions that occurred roughly from April through December 2020, a period that includes the first part of last winter’s Covid-19 case surge, which started in October 2020 and waned by February 2021.
U.S. life expectancy declined by a year during the first half of 2020, according to federal figures released Thursday that show the deadly impact of the coronavirus pandemic’s early months.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics said life expectancy at birth was 77.8 years as of the end of June based on provisional estimates. The one-year decline from the previous year was the largest drop since World War II, when life expectancy fell 2.9 years between 1942 and 1943. It put life expectancy at its lowest level in the U.S. since 2006.
“It’s very concerning when we see mortality increase to such a degree,” said Elizabeth Arias, a health scientist at the center and a co-author of the report. “It gives you a clear picture of the magnitude of the effect of the Covid pandemic.”