Arkansas population expected to decline as birth rate falls, hits record low in U.S.

In 2020, the U.S. birth rate hit a record low with 3.6 million babies born. This is the lowest number since 1979.

Arkansas’ birth rate sits about five points higher than the national average, but is experiencing the same downward trend as the nation.

From 2017-2019, Arkansas’ average Total Fertility Rate to be 1.87. This rate is below the 2.1 replacement rate. This means that the fertility rate is not enough to maintain the current population numbers.

“We’re likely to see declining populations in many of Arkansas’ counties, because we’re below that replacement rate,” Economist Dr. Michael Pakko said. “And the migration patterns are such that more people are moving to certain areas of the state and out of the state.”

The birth rate varies across the state. The lowest birth rate is in Clark County and is the highest in Chicot County.

Typically, birth rate is seen as an indicator of the quality of life.

“We find a pattern around the world,” Pakko said. “As countries develop, as incomes go up, as people have more discretion about the decisions in their life, the birth rate tends to decline.”

The birth rate is not necessarily good nor bad, but it helps economists, planners, demographers, and other professionals estimate and plan for the future. For Universities and Child Care services, for example, a low birth rate could mean less demand in the future.

“And eventually it also lowers the number of working-age adults who can support their elderly, retired parents through social security systems,” Pakko said

Read the full story and watch the interview at the KATV Channel 7 website here.