NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Replacing The U.S. Population

February 11, 1999

West Virginia and portions of New England have the lowest fertility rates in the nation, according to demographers. Areas where fertility is high are mostly in the West and Southwest.

Over their lifetime women must bear an average of 2.1 children in order for the population to remain stable -- not including the immigration factor.

  • Fertility rates are lowest in Vermont and Maine -- at 1.58 children per woman -- followed closely by New Hampshire, Massachusetts and West Virginia.
  • Utah has the highest rate -- 2.65 children per woman -- followed by Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Hawaii, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Illinois and South Dakota.
  • The rest of the states have below replacement fertility levels -- including rates of 1.9 in the District of Columbia, 1.8 in Maryland and 1.7 in Virginia.
  • There are a number of factors behind the decline, experts say, but the primary reason is that women are pursuing careers and putting off or declining the decision to have children.

Worldwide, fertility is highest in Yemen -- with a rate of 7.6 children per woman. Five countries are among the lowest, with a rate of 1.2 children per woman: Bulgaria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Romania and Spain.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Population Found Dropping in U.S. and Other Nations," Washington Times, February 10, 1999.


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