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CDC: U.S. total fertility rate too low to be sustainable

American parents aren’t doing enough to ensure that the U.S. population remains stable, according to a new report on the country’s total fertility rate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A figure known as replacement level fertility – a total fertility rate of 2,100 live births per 1,000 women – is needed to maintain the current U.S. population. Without that number of new babies per family, there’s no way to replace all the workers who currently support the country.

Only two states – South Dakota, with 2,227 live births per woman, and Utah, with 2,120 – met that goal, the CDC reported.

“It’s certainly from Mormonism,” Dr. Kenneth Johnson of the University of New Hampshire told The Daily Mail of Utah’s fertility rate. “The concentration for so many Mormons in a state is why the fertility tends to be higher.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages couples to have children, at members have some of the highest birth rates in the U.S.

In South Dakota, economics may be at play.

“My guess is South Dakota has had so much growth in the energy industry, it may be the influx of people to the state that affects fertility,” Johnson said.

Twenty-eight states had a total fertility rate of less than 1,800 live births per 1,000 women. The average was 1,765.5 births per 1,000 women. Washington, D.C., at 1,421, had the lowest rate.

But not every woman in the U.S. reflects that trend. It’s mainly white women who are pulling the average down. Black women had a birth rate higher than the replacement estimate in 12 states – with a whopping 4,003.5 live births per 1,000 black women in their highest state, Maine – and Hispanic women were outpacing the replacement rate in 29 states. (The report gave no statistics on Asian and Native American women.)

The U.S. isn’t in any danger yet, but if the country is unable to turn its total fertility rate around, it could begin to have an effect in a couple of generations, said Dr. Philip Cohen of the Maryland Population Research Center.

“And there are pathways out of it,” he added. “The main way is through immigration. It may be difficult with culture and politics, but not with demography.”

Read the National Vital Statistics Report.

By Kyla Cathey, Contributing Writer

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