Nearly 10% decrease in number of third and higher births from 1992 to 2014

For white non-Hispanics, a little over 600k births in 1992 were the third live baby or higher.  This represented just under 1/4 of all births.  Over 75% of all births for 1992 were first or second births.

The approximate distribution of the 600k higher birth orders (less than 100% due to rounding) was:

3rd order: 66%

4th order: 22%

5th order: 7%

6th order: 2.6%

7th order: 1%

8th order or higher: 1.1%

In 2014, there were over 50k fewer such births, a bit over 550k and that represented just OVER 25% of all births for that year.

The distribution of these 550k higher-order births over 20 years later was:

3rd: 61%

4th: 23%

5th: 8.4%

6th: 3.4%

7th: 1.6%

8th or higher: 2%

The total births for 1992 were around 2.5 million, while for 2014 they were around 2.1 million.  So people were having fewer children overall, but the ones having many are chugging along pretty impressively.  The problem is that there’s no filtering for how much of that chugging along is in little horse-powered buggies, so there’s that to keep in mind.

To put this distribution of higher-order births in context, here’s the “white” distribution for 1970, ten years after the Pill and IUDs were introduced.

Total white births: approx 3.1 million

Total third or higher order white births: approx 1 million

Percentage distribution of third and higher order births:

3rd: 48%

4th: 25%

5th: 12.5%

6th: 6.4%

7th: 3.4%

8th: 4.5%

Admittedly this includes some Hispanics, but only about 4-5%, not enough to shift the overall pattern.  This pattern from 1970 could be returning at the higher orders, but it’s too soon to tell.


10 thoughts on “Nearly 10% decrease in number of third and higher births from 1992 to 2014

  1. I am of the mindset that the total culture of the demographics matters. If pro-reproduction people produce 3-8 children on average, even if the anti-natalists don’t breed at all and gain some recruits, eventually the anti-natalist population will be replaced by breeders. The only way they can stop this is compulsory sterilization. Eventually, those who have children outnumber those who don’t, in every demographic.


    • Is it really true that people that don’t have 3-8 children are anti-natalist?

      I would say that it’s much more the case that many, many people in the US want their 2.0 children and want them very much. I don’t think anti-natalist is really the right term for that.

      I also think that a lot of this is driven by a much higher level of investment in the 2.0 children (and a societal expectation of total investment). A lot of women go virtually nuts over their 1 or 2 children. Long term, it’s not a sustainable level of commitment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anti-natalists in the reproductive sense generally are people who believe we should not breed, or should breed at or below replacement. IE: “Against birth.”

        However, I am not at all saying that the families with 2.0 kids are anti-natalist. More that the middle ground (1-3 children) are generally not strongly leaning one way or another. They love and want their children, but they are also probably persuaded that we have a population crisis and should adopt more. They are a side without a distinct voice. Whereas anti-natalists and breeders are sides with very loud, clean voices. As the divide between “no kids” and “breed” becomes greater, many of these people will be forced to pick a side.


    • This is only true to a point. If you make it impossible to have children, the children will see the difficulty and delay or skip reproduction themselves. Let’s just go ahead and use the example in America of black women. They routinely had lots and lots of children, until they had the ability to avoid pregnancy for 15 years straight. Despite being “breeders”, they didn’t and haven’t overtaken the white Americans despite having significantly more large families as a percentage for decades.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, but that’s where self-sufficiency comes in. Paid work and money are just intermediates between our energy expenditure and survival: in principle, we need nothing but access to raw resources to live and breed. People who actively choose to breed and go to all lengths to make it possible are a completely different culture from people who breed “because it happens”. Eventually people who make an active choice to have children will have transferred knowledge, resources and an overall culture to their children. People who just “happen” to breed will have to choose one side or another eventually.


  2. TPC said:

    “The problem is that there’s no filtering for how much of that chugging along is in little horse-powered buggies, so there’s that to keep in mind.”

    That’s a really important. The Amish may not sound like an important factor, but their population is exploding–they double their population every 22 years.

    “Nearly 250,000 Amish live in the U.S. and Canada, and the population is expected to exceed 1 million around 2050.”


    • I am originally from a small town (pop. 2,000-ish) in the upper Midwest. In the mid-1970s some Old Order Amish moved in just to the north. They started with a couple of families. It is estimated now that that Amish community has grown to 9 churches. Each Amish church consists of 25 to 30 families and each Amish family has 8 to 10 members. Conservatively that population has grown to 1,800. They seem to be thriving. They have stores, bakeries, greenhouses, and other businesses.

      When I started researching the Benedict Option (and stumbled upon this blog) I was surprised at how quickly those writing about the BO dismiss the Amish. Yet, from what I can tell, the Amish model works.


      • Not that Lori said:

        “Conservatively that population has grown to 1,800.”

        TPC said:

        “Well, it works if there’s a larger community to sell into. The Amish model is unashamedly parasitic and it’s hard to remember that when looking at how agrarian they still are.”


        We don’t have real Amish in our area, but we do have a large quasi-Amish intentional community/cult. That’s basically their model–really expensive nice craft stuff, a showplace model farm, classes for people outside the community, a cafe, various stores, and a spectacular yearly craft fair. Oh, and child labor. (Some of the craft items are labeled with a child’s age.)

        I don’t know about their family sizes.

        I was talking to some friends about it who were complaining about how expensive it all is. I told them, “Simple living is really expensive.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t heard the Amish described as parasitic before. I believe the Amish model works because of their willingness to comply with church authority in all aspects of their lives.


Comments are closed.