New data has allowed me to post a new version of this graph through 2010:
USA’s Total Fertility Rates by Race, 1980-2010
White fertility rate:
A caveat: Race-fertility calculations in the USA are based on race of mother. One must remember that by the late 2000s, ~10% of the babies born to American White women were fathered by Nonwhite men. The American ‘White-White’ TFR would thus be ~1.65 in the late 2000s. (White-[Female-]Fertility (x) Share of those births to White fathers = 1.85* 0.9)
Assuming a 2.1 TFR rate of replacement, a population with a sustained 1.65 TFR would produce a child-generation 78.6% as large as the parent generation. This means, every three generations or so, the population is cut in half.
The Death of Communism and American Fertility
Compare the TFRs of 1986 with those of 1990. Now, ask yourself, what was different in the world?
I have speculated that there was a swelling of ‘civilizational pride’ in the USA (and its satellites) that began sometime in the late-1980s, because of a seemingly-imminent Western victory in the Cold War. My conjecture was that such a thing would explain why both abortion and crime would have declined concurrently around that time. Both crime and abortion can be looked at as anti-social manifestations of nihilism, which we would to fall away as ‘civilizational pride’ swells. The fact that there was also a mini baby boom in the period straddling the “Fall of the Wall” seems to support this. People would be more likely to want to start families if they feel this kind of pride, surely.
It’s definitely an intriguing theory. What else could explain the “mini baby boom” in this period, seen among all racial groups? Although Nonwhite fertility began to decline in 1991, the ‘Death-of-Communism Baby-Boomlet’, which lifted White fertility by 15% (from its 1980s-doldrums, mind you), never abated. White fertility remained at 1990 levels on through the 2000s. (Technically, this would not be a ‘boom’ for Whites, then, but rather just a plain-old ‘rise’).
Observations, Questions, Speculations
(1) If you disagree with my ‘Death-of-Communism civilizational pride’ hypothesis above, what could explain why USA fertility jumped at the time?
(2) Sub-Replacement Non-Hispanics: No racial group in the USA has been naturally-replacing itself (which requires a 2.1 TFR in a modern society) from the mid-1990s and on through the late 2000s, except Hispanics.
(3) As remarked upon above, White fertility, which had been in a slump through the 1970s and 1980s, recovered to ~1.85 by the early 1990s. It remained remarkably stable at ~1.85 through the 1990s and 2000s. Comparisons to Europe suggest that American White women are significantly outbreeding some of their cousins on the old Continent.
(3) I don’t understand why American-Indian fertility fell. They went from being the most-fertile group in the early ’80s to the least-fertile by the early 2000s. (~2.2 to ~1.75).
(4) Why was there a Hispanic “mini baby boom” in the mid-2000s? (Peaking at 3.00 in 2007). [Edit: This has been answered in the comments].
(5) Why did the Asian fertility trend swing from years of steady decline, below 1.8 in the late 1990s, to nearly replacement level (over 2.0) by the late 2000s? A solid ~15% rise in a decade.
(6) What turned around the Black fertility trends? Historically, we all know, Black fertility was always much-higher than White fertility. Black fertility declined from 1990-2002, and it then looked like Black and White TFRs might even-out by decade’s end. This did not happen, though, and the Bush-Jr. years saw a recovery back to positive-natural-growth territory. Why?
This is the latest data available from the CDC (the official agency in the USA recording this information), released in late 2010. “National Vital Statistics Report: Births Final Data for 2008“. Tables 4 and 8 used. [Warning: this is a large pdf].