A Declining Growth Rate

A Declining Growth Rate

As the 2020 census has come and gone, America was enabled to grasp a more comprehensive understanding of its population and demographics across the nation. Specifically, questions were raised regarding the population decline that has made itself inherently evident in the past few years. Any shift in population heralds new concerns, but many predicted that the human population would increase for the foreseeable future until humanity reached its carrying capacity and resources for life became a scarcity. So, analysts were surprised to find the population declining and have begun to explore the reasoning and effects that have led the growth rate to lessen. 

As of 2019, the total fertility rate in the U.S. reached a new record low of 1.705 births per woman

*2.1 births per women reflects the number needed to sustain the nation’s population (CDC)”



A noticeable dip in fertility rates centered heavily around socioeconomics has contributed to the decline in population growth rate. As an increasing number of women pursue higher levels of education and center their focus on establishing and strengthening their careers, the average age of a woman having their first child has grown higher, now averaging 26.9 in 2018 compared to 21.4 in 1970 (CDC). Increased awareness and access to contraceptives have discouraged fertility rates across the globe. From an economic perspective, financial strain directly accompanies raising children, and the economic stability of the nation often correlates with birth rates. Recently, America’s financial status has taken a crippling hit in response to the destructive COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in a period of economic recession for the US. According to the CDC, the “provisional number of births for the United States in 2020 was 3,605,201, down 4% from 2019.” Inflated costs of housing have gone on to reinforce many decisions to hold off on having children.

Effects of Population Decline:

  • Employers lacking sufficient workers to grow their businesses
  • Fewer workers paying into social security and Medicare– troubling for those reliant or who will be soon reliant on these programs today
  • Fewer schools
  • Increased focus on local care communities for the elderly
  • Decreased entertainment facilities

However, a decline in the population does not necessarily have a negative impact on the nation. Having a lower population could have a net positive result as long as the country can manage to strengthen its numbers in the workforce to combat the decreased population. Also, fewer individuals translates to a decreased use of resources which could be beneficial for the environment.  

Local Impact:

Although the globe’s population has declined as a whole, even Tumwater, Washington has already begun to experience the effects of a decline in population growth. In response to a variety of factors, Tumwater High School is anticipated to have about 200 fewer students during the 2021-2022 school year, clearly reflecting the situation at hand. As a result of a decreased student body, fewer classes may be offered which may accelerate rates of retirement amongst THS teachers. Because the government allocates certain funds and resources to public schools in relation with the size of their student population, certain programs may be cut due to the lack of funding that THS receives which could setback the rich Tumwater community. 


“Census Estimates Show Population Decline in 16 States.” The Pew Charitable Trusts, www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2021/01/21/census-estimates-show-population-decline-in-16-states.

Frey, William H. “What the 2020 Census Will Reveal about America: Stagnating Growth, an Aging Population, and Youthful Diversity.” Brookings, Brookings, 11 Jan. 2021, www.brookings.edu/research/what-the-2020-census-will-reveal-about-america-stagnating-growth-an-aging-population-and-youthful-diversity/#:~:text=National%20population%20growth%20began%20to,observed%20as%20recently%20as%202000.

Gallagher, James. “Fertility Rate: ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Global Crash in Children Being Born.” BBC News, BBC, 14 July 2020, www.bbc.com/news/health-53409521.

Harding, Robin. “The Costs of a Declining Population.” Subscribe to Read | Financial Times, Financial Times, 14 Jan. 2020, www.ft.com/content/c017334e-36bb-11ea-a6d3-9a26f8c3cba4.

Yu, Sun. “China Set to Report First Population Decline in Five Decades.” Subscribe to Read | Financial Times, Financial Times, 27 Apr. 2021, www.ft.com/content/008ea78a-8bc1-4954-b283-700608d3dc6c.