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50 States of Data on Plummeting 2020 Birth Rates

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The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 700,000 people in the United States, and it may have also reduced the number of live U.S. births by more than 100,000.

Analysts at the National Center for Health Statistics talk about the sharp drop in the birth rate in a new paper based on final 2020 “natality” data, and in an earlier paper, based on provisional data, that was released in June.

The plummeting birth rate could be having an immediate effect on any efforts to market life insurance and disability insurance to new parents, and it may affect sales and underwriting for those products and other products for decades to come.

The rapid drop could also make U.S. demographers’ “population pyramid” diagrams look like pine cones.

A pyramid diagram uses horizontal lines to represent the size of each age group included. The oldest age groups go on top, and the youngest at the bottom.

U.S. birth totals have been dropping, gradually, for years. The new plunge could make the base much narrow.

Starting in 2035, when the people born in 2021 start to enter the workforce, managers of Social Security will have to take the small size of that age group into effect when assessing the program’s revenue stream and benefits obligations.

The Data

The teams found that the U.S. general fertility rate dropped 4% in 2020, to 56 births per 1,000 women ages 15-44, from 2019 to 2020.The fertility rate was down for just about every major group of women the researchers looked at.

Most of the babies conceived after the pandemic flared in the United States were born in September 2020 or later. Some women may have intentionally put off conceiving babies because of concerns about the pandemic, access to routine prenatal care, and access to hospital delivery rooms. In other cases, it’s possible that COVID-19 infections or lockdown-related stress may have reduced conception rates.

The new paper is a sequel to a report that Martin and other researchers released in June.

In the earlier paper, the researchers said:

  • The number of babies born in the United States fell 5% between 2019 and 2020, to 3.6 million.
  • Between the second half of 2019 and the second half of 2020, the number of live births fell 6%.
  • In one state, the number of babies born between the second half of 2019 and the second half of 2020 fell 11%.

For a look at the five states with the biggest percentage decreases in the number of live births between the second half of 2019 and the second half of 2020, see the slideshow above.

For birth data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, see the chart below.

The Predictions

MetLife suggested in February, based on short-term disability insurance plan leave data, that the number of births involving mothers with short-term disability coverage could fall about 20%.

The Brookings Institution predicted, based on analysis of trends after the 1918 flu pandemic, that the pandemic could cut the number of 2021 births by more than 300,0000 in 2021.

The final birth figures suggest that natality fell in 202, but probably less than what the Brookings and MetLife forecasters predicted.

U.S. Births, in 2019 and 2020

Total for the Year January-June July-December
2019 2020 Change, 2019-2020, in Percent 2019 2020 Change, 2019-2020, in Percent 2019 2020 Change, 2019-2020, in Percent
Alabama 58,615 57,634 -2 27,778 28,052 1 30,837 29,582 -4
Alaska 9,822 9,447 -4 4,881 4,706 -4 4,941 4,741 -4
Arizona 79,375 76,923 -3 38,168 37,439 -2 41,207 39,484 -4
Arkansas 36,564 35,210 -4 17,439 17,185 -1 19,125 18,025 -6
California 446,479 419,612 -6 216,456 207,015 -4 230,023 212,597 -8
Colorado 62,869 61,493 -2 30,590 30,528 0 32,279 30,965 -4
Connecticut 34,258 33,448 -2 16,752 16,613 -1 17,506 16,835 -4
Delaware 10,562 10,336 -2 4,963 5,050 2 5,599 5,286 -6
District of Columbia 9,079 8,858 -2 4,364 4,461 2 4,715 4,397 -7
Florida 220,002 209,612 -5 105,184 102,477 -3 114,818 107,135 -7
Georgia 126,371 122,266 -3 60,855 60,027 -1 65,516 62,239 -5
Hawaii 16,797 15,730 -6 8,191 7,827 -4 8,606 7,903 -8
Idaho 22,063 21,520 -2 10,896 10,642 -2 11,167 10,878 -3
Illinois 140,128 133,207 -5 68,353 66,094 -3 71,775 67,113 -6
Indiana 80,859 78,087 -3 38,992 38,842 0 41,867 39,245 -6
Iowa 37,649 36,080 -4 18,518 18,018 -3 19,131 18,062 -6
Kansas 35,395 34,360 -3 17,130 16,922 -1 18,265 17,438 -5
Kentucky 53,069 51,581 -3 25,520 25,215 -1 27,549 26,366 -4
Louisiana 58,941 57,070 -3 27,849 27,631 -1 31,092 29,439 -5
Maine 11,779 11,532 -2 5,772 5,683 -2 6,007 5,849 -3
Maryland 70,178 68,523 -2 34,035 34,010 0 36,143 34,513 -5
Massachusetts 69,117 66,429 -4 33,601 33,376 -1 35,516 33,053 -7
Michigan 107,886 103,846 -4 53,014 52,249 -1 54,872 51,597 -6
Minnesota 66,027 63,387 -4 32,474 31,797 -2 33,553 31,590 -6
Mississippi 36,636 35,457 -3 17,233 17,190 0 19,403 18,267 -6
Missouri 72,127 69,238 -4 35,046 34,232 -2 37,081 35,006 -6
Montana 11,079 10,785 -3 5,546 5,498 -1 5,533 5,287 -4
Nebraska 24,755 24,235 -2 12,152 12,080 -1 12,603 12,155 -4
Nevada 35,072 33,632 -4 16,798 16,350 -3 18,274 17,282 -5
New Hampshire 11,839 11,773 -1 5,732 5,785 1 6,107 5,988 -2
New Jersey 99,585 96,543 -3 48,245 48,387 0 51,340 48,156 -6
New Mexico 22,960 21,316 -7 11,048 10,739 -3 11,912 10,577 -11
New York 221,539 209,172 -6 107,791 105,506 -2 113,748 103,666 -9
North Carolina 118,725 116,674 -2 57,371 57,402 0 61,354 59,272 -3
North Dakota 10,454 10,059 -4 5,275 5,017 -5 5,179 5,042 -3
Ohio 134,461 129,071 -4 65,303 63,862 -2 69,158 65,209 -6
Oklahoma 49,143 47,393 -4 23,607 23,286 -1 25,536 24,107 -6
Oregon 41,858 39,792 -5 20,937 19,993 -5 20,921 19,799 -5
Pennsylvania 134,230 130,562 -3 65,204 64,658 -1 69,026 65,904 -5
Rhode Island 10,175 10,102 -1 4,993 5,066 1 5,182 5,036 -3
South Carolina 57,038 55,693 -2 27,515 27,150 -1 29,523 28,543 -3
South Dakota 11,449 10,952 -4 5,686 5,519 -3 5,763 5,433 -6
Tennessee 80,450 78,659 -2 38,715 38,240 -1 41,735 40,419 -3
Texas 377,599 365,857 -3 179,973 178,369 -1 197,626 187,488 -5
Utah 46,826 45,702 -2 23,175 23,084 0 23,651 22,618 -4
Vermont 5,361 5,117 -5 2,689 2,574 -4 2,672 2,543 -5
Virginia 97,429 94,391 -3 47,295 46,848 -1 50,134 47,543 -5
Washington 84,895 83,067 -2 42,165 41,481 -2 42,730 41,586 -3`
West Virginia 18,136 17,159 -5 8,767 8,510 -3 9,369 8,649 -8
Wisconsin 63,270 60,491 -4 31,144 30,528 -2 32,126 29,963 -7
Wyoming 6,565 6,118 -7 3,317 3,024 -9 3,248 3,094 -5
TOTAL 3,747,540 3,605,201 -4 1,814,497 1,782,237 -2 1,933,043 1,822,964 -6
Source: Declines in Births by Month: United States, 2020