News Release

New York’s fertility rate drops, average age of mothers rises

Reports and Proceedings

Cornell University

ITHACA, NY – A decline in New York’s childbirth rate is showing no sign of reversing and many women are waiting longer to have children, according to newly compiled data from the Program in Applied Demographics (PAD) in the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy.

In 2011, about 241,312 were born in New York. In 2021, that number was 210,742 – a 13% decline.

New York state’s total fertility rate (TFR) – the average number of births a woman would have in her lifetime if current patterns continue – dropped from 1.85 in 2009 to 1.55 in 2021.

The 2021 TFR for New York is below the U.S. average of 1.71, and far below the 2.1 “replacement” rate – the point at which a developed country’s population rate would neither rise nor decline.

Women who do have babies are waiting until later in life. The average age of first birth for New York women was 28.9 in 2021, more than a year older than the average age in 2011 (27.2). The fertility rate has increased significantly for women ages 35-44, but not enough to offset the decline in childbirths by younger women.

“Other states in the Northeast are also facing declining fertility and an aging population, which has many implications for policy and infrastructure,” said PAD researcher Leslie Reynolds. “But since New York has an especially unique and diverse state geography, also paying attention to local and county trends and using them to inform policies is vital.”

In addition to the declining birth rate, other findings include:

  • The TFR is highest for women who live in Rockland, Jefferson and Orange counties and lowest for women in Otsego, New York City (Manhattan) and Tompkins counties.
  • 65% of the households with babies were led by opposite sex, married couples. 17% were single mothers, 13% were cohabiting couples of any sex, and 5% were single fathers. As the children grew to toddler stage and beyond, the number of married couples fell and the percentage of single moms increased. 
  • There were about 4,270 more boys than girls born in 2021.
  • Liam, Noah and Olivia were the most popular baby names in 2020.

For additional information, see this Cornell Chronicle story.

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