(June 2003) In a surprising recent development, the U.S. total fertility rate (TFR) has been revised, so the United States is no longer the sole industrialized country with fertility above the replacement level of about 2.1 children per woman. In 2001, the U.S. TFR was estimated at 2.034, down from 2.056 in 2000. The change reflected the 2000 Census count of the U.S. population, which was nearly 7 million higher than expected (when denominators of rates rise, the rates themselves go down). But even this lower birth rate is still much higher than the birth rates in other industrialized countries. Perhaps the new estimate of the U.S. TFR and the sagging U.S. economy, which may further reduce the birth rate, will narrow this gap in the near future.
Carl Haub holds the Conrad Taeuber Chair of Population Information at PRB.
This article is excerpted from the 2003 World Population Data Sheet, to be published in mid-July 2003 by the Population Reference Bureau.