Pricey Childcare Costs Blamed As Birth Numbers In VA, DC Fall

Deb Belt
Not enough babies are being born for DC and Virginia to maintain their population; one reason may be crippling child-care costs.
Not enough babies are being born for DC and Virginia to maintain their population; one reason may be crippling child-care costs.

WASHINGTON, DC — The fertility rate in the United States is below what researchers say is the level needed for the country's population to replace itself over time. New figures released by the Centers for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics show that the 2017 total fertility rate in the United States is 16 percent lower than the required level.

In May 2018, the CDC said that the United States birth rate hit a 30-year low the previous year for nearly all age groups of women under the age of 40. A subsequent survey conducted by The New York Times and Morning Consult found that a big reason adults are having fewer children is due to soaring child-care costs.

In Virginia and the District of Columbia, where the fertility rates are lower than the required level, childcare costs are some of the highest in the country, according to the most recent data available from the Economic Policy Institute. The average annual cost of infant care in Washington, D.C., is $22,631 — that’s $1,886 per month — higher than any of the 50 states. The average annual cost of infant care in Virginia is $10,458, that’s $872 per month.

Only two states in the country had a fertility rate sufficient for the population to replace itself, according to the NCHS. The total fertility rate is defined by the NCHS as the the expected number of births per 1,000 women over their lifetime, given the current birth rates by age group. A rate of 2,100 births per 1,000 women over their entire lifetime is considered adequate, according to the NCHS.

South Dakota had the highest overall total fertility rate (2227.5 births per 1,000 women), followed by Utah (2,120.5 births per 1,000 women). The District of Columbia had the lowest total fertility rate (1,421 births per 1,000 women) and states concentrated in the eastern U.S. were among those with the lowest fertility rates. In the west, California, Oregon and Colorado were the three states with the lowest fertility rates.

The report also looked at total fertility rates among non-Hispanic white women, non-Hispanic black women and hispanic women. For non-Hispanic white women, no states had a total fertility level above the replacement level. Among non-hispanic black women,12 states had an adequate rate while 29 states had an adequate level among hispanic women.

In Virginia, the total fertility rate for 2017 was 1,748.5 births per 1,000 women. That's below the national rate of 1,765 births per 1,000 women and below the level needed for the state's population to replace itself. A total of 100,391 births were recorded in the Commonwealth in 2017, with the highest birth rates being in women between the ages of 30-34. A total of 9,560 births were recorded in the District in 2017, with women between 30 and 34 having the highest birth rate.

The NCHS calculated the total fertility rates based on birth certificate data from 2017.

You can read the full NCHS report here.

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