Will Women Catch Up to Their Fertility Expectations?

IB#21-6

The brief’s key findings are:

  • The record low U.S. fertility rate is raising concerns about future population prospects.
  • Will it bounce back? Many see hope in the “expectations” data.
  • Although today’s women in their 30s have had only 1.3 children, in their early 20s they expected to have more than two. Will they catch up?
  • The analysis examined an older cohort of women and used the results to predict how today’s women in their 30s will fare.
  • The results suggest that their completed fertility will be 1.96, just a bit below the replacement rate level.
  • However, the longer-term prospects are less encouraging:
    • women currently in their 20s expect to have fewer children, so completed fertility may be lower for them, and
    • COVID could depress it further.