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US birth rates increased for the first time in seven years

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Birth rates in the US rose for the first time in seven years, after some experts speculated that the Covid-19 pandemic would lead to a baby bust.

On Tuesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics released provisional data regarding birth rates in the US in 2021.

According to the report, there were nearly 3.7m babies born in the US last year, an increase of one per cent, or nearly 46,000 more than were born in 2020.

The increase, which saw birth rates rising for women in age groups 25 and older, marked the first since 2014.

On average, US births have been declining two per cent every year since 2014, with CNN noting that 2019-2020 saw one of the worst drops seen in decades. Even with the increase, there were still about 86,000 fewer births last year than in 2019, according to the report.

The report does not state why there has been an increase in births, however, Beth Jarosz, a demographer and program director with the nonprofit Population Reference Bureau, told CNN that postponed pregnancies or access to contraceptives may have been factors.

According to ABC News, Pew Research Center polls have also suggested that Americans delayed giving birth in the early days of the pandemic due to economic and health concerns.

Dr Brady Hamilton, from the NCHS Division of Vital Statistics and lead author of the report, also told ABC News that the agency is limited in what information it can obtain about changes to fertility behaviour. “​​When it comes to changes in fertility behaviour, we’re limited,” he said. “That’s where you need a survey about what’s behind the decision-making process.”

According to the report, the total fertility rate, which refers to the average number of births a woman will have, was 1,663.5 births per 1,000 women last year. The number was up from 1.64 in 2020, however, it is still lower than the “replacement” level of 2.1, which the Wall Street Journal notes is the level needed for a generation to replace itself.