A Few Thoughts on the CDC Births Study

Millennials are having babies. Yes, this is certainly true. Since Millennials are the primary segment in the age range that is most likely to give birth (what my grandmother called the “fertile years”…enunciating each syllable mind you) this conclusion is broad and simple.

A recent CDC study on the trends associated with Millennials births, and other age segments which mean Gen-Xers, has some preliminary conclusions which are helpful for us who are in church ministry. Their report surveys the birth rate and other factors around births for the 2013 year. Here are some quick highlights:

1. There were 3,957,577 births in the United States during 2013.

2. The birth rate was 62.9 births per 1,000 women which is slightly lower than 2012 and represents a birth rate in older womenrecord low fertility rate. This is something that statisticians and demographers have been watching carefully, western fertility rates have been steady falling for some time now. It represents a coming shift in global population growth over the next three or four generations if unchanged. Equally concerning for these experts is that the birth rate for women in their early twenties has dropped to 81.2 birth per 1,000 which is also a record low. However, birth rates for women in their thirty and forties rose again, by 1%, to 98.7 births per 1,000 women. This is a developing trend which is worth paying attention to for a number of reasons listed below.

3. The non-marital birth rate rose again to 44.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15-44, though births to unmarried women is statistically the same from 2012.

4. The replacement rate of births within the population continued to fall below the replacement level. That means the generation being born right now will likely be smaller than Millennials, perhaps considerably smaller.

 

A couple of quick observations from this study note that the birth rate in women between 20-39 is continuing to decline the United States. This is not surprising. If one adds the filters of women who college or graduate degrees and their place in the workforce the rate likely falls off more significantly. For many women in the United States, the primary goal of their post-high school lives no longer is finding a husband and being in the home, but it is getting their degree(s) and finding their desired career. This is a generational shift that many of our Boomer church members will not entirely understand.

Likewise, with the massive increase in cohabitation among Millennials, and the ready access to contraception this isĀ also lowering the child birth rate. Some women are waiting until their late thirties to early forties to consider beginning families, and many times having a suitable male partner is ancillary to this later life quest.

There are plenty of other conclusions one can likely draw from this data. However, we in the Church should note these trends particularly as they intersect with those we are trying to reach. The new traditional family would be considered highly un-traditional several decades ago. Yet our goal in reaching those far from Christ isn’t to scold them or require them to conform to some older relational paradigm. Instead it should be to understand where they are coming from and craft new ministries that relate and connect well with them to draw them towards faith in Christ, whether a new faith or renewed faith.

Studies like this one from the CDC only help us better configure our ministry in this way.