New Report Tracks Trends in Births by State Shows Westward Shift in Births

For Release: May 10, 2004

Contact: NCHS/CDC Public Affairs, (301) 458-4800


Trends in Characteristics of Births by State: United States, 1990, 1995, and 2000-2002. National Vital Statistics Report, Volume 52, Number 19. 152 pp. (PHS) 2004-1120 [PDF – 10.7 MB] (508 accessible)

Despite a nationwide decline in the number of births over the past decade, a number of States, particularly in the western United States, showed significant increases. This western shift is due in part to a growing population as well as the age and race composition of residents in those States. States with the largest increases were Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. Increases were also noted in Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Georgia, and North Carolina.

The States with the greatest declines in births were primarily in the Northeast and included Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. The number of births also declined in other parts of the country; decreases were noted in North Dakota, Michigan, and Alaska. In 2002, the birth rate ranged from 10 births per 1,000 population recorded in Maine and Vermont to 21 per 1,000 in Utah.

“Trends in Characteristics of Births by State: United States, 1990, 1995, and 2000-2002” documents the changes in births, birth rates, and other fertility measures and demographic patterns. Births are tabulated for each State and the Nation by race, ethnicity, marital status, age, and education of mothers; birth order; and sex ratios of births in this comprehensive analysis with details not usually available, including illustrative maps.

Highlights of the report include these findings:

  • Nationwide and in all States, birth rates were down for women under age 30 and increased for women 30 years and over between 1990 and 2002.
  • Each year more boys than girls are born, and nationwide this sex ratio has stabilized at about 1,050 boys for every 1,000 girls. There are differences by State, with the 3-year average sex ratio highest in Hawaii (1,075) and the lowest in New Mexico (1,030). There is also variation by race and ethnicity. Asian or Pacific Islander and white women have higher sex ratios than the national average, and Hispanic, black, and American Indian women have lower ratios.
  • Nationwide just over one-third of births were to unmarried women in 2002, and this proportion has increased in every State since 1990 but still varies considerably by State. The highest proportion of unmarried births is in the Southeast.
  • In general, women with higher educational levels have more favorable pregnancy outcomes. From 1990 to 2002, the percentage of births to women with 16 or more years of education increased in nearly every State. However, some States–all with rapidly growing Hispanic populations–experienced an increase in the percentage of births to women with fewer than 12 years of education.

Data in this report are based on birth certificates filed in State vital statistics offices and reported to CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics through the National Cooperative Vital Statistics System. The report can be viewed or downloaded at NCHS Web site. The Web site also contains additional information about the vital statistics program.