2007 U.S. BIRTHS BREAK BABY BOOM RECORD
March 20, 2009
More babies were born in the United States in 2007 than in any other year in American history, according to preliminary data reported by the National Center for Health Statistics.
- The 4,317,000 births in 2007 just edged out the figure for 1957, at the height of the baby boom.
- The increase reflected a slight rise in childbearing by women of all ages, including those in their 30s and 40s, and a record share of births to unmarried women.
In contrast with the culturally transforming postwar boom, when a smaller population of women bore an average of three or four children, the recent increase mainly reflects a larger population of women of childbearing age, said Stephanie J. Ventura, chief of reproductive statistics at the center and an author of the new report. Today, the average woman has 2.1 children.
Also in 2007:
- For the second straight year, the rate of births to teenagers rose slightly after declining by one-third from 1991 to 2005.
- The share of births to unmarried women of all ages reached a record high of 40 percent of all births in 2007, the most recent data available; this continued a marked trend upward in unwed births since 2002.
The growth has mainly been fueled by increases among adult women, Ventura said. Racial and ethnic differences remain large: 28 percent of white babies were born to unmarried mothers in 2007, compared with 51 percent of Hispanic babies and 72 percent of black babies. The shares of births to unwed mothers among whites and Hispanics have climbed faster than the share among blacks, but from lower starting points.
In yet another record high, the share of deliveries by Caesarean section reached 32 percent in 2007, up 2 percent from 2006. Experts have repeatedly said some C-sections are not medically necessary and impose excess costs, but the rate has steadily climbed from 21 percent in 1996.
Source: Erik Eckholm, "2007 U.S. Births Break Baby Boom Record," New York Times, March 19, 2009.
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