Skip to main content


Morgan, S. Philip (2015). Variation in U.S. Fertility: Low and Not so Low, but Not Lowest Low.. Rindfuss, Ronald R. & Choe, Minja Kim (Eds.) (pp. 125-141). Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.


Unlike most other developed countries, the United States has not experienced sustained periods with fertility well below the replacement level. Thus, government policy is not directed toward increasing or decreasing overall levels of fertility. There is substantial fertility variation in the United States, however, by state/region, level of religiosity, level of education, and race/ethnicity. No group has “lowest-low” fertility (i.e., a total fertility rate (TFR) of less than 1.3 children per woman), but sub-groups do have rates as low as Europe as a whole (i.e., 1.6 for EU-27 in 2008). We describe the intermediate variables (the demographic regime) producing both the level and variation in U.S. fertility. Further, we locate the causes of these intermediate variables in the social structures that define them and determine their strength and variation. The cumulative U.S. evidence suggests that lowest-low fertility is not an inevitable feature of economically advanced societies and demonstrates that the general frameworks we propose are useful for understanding levels and variation in low fertility.


Reference Type

Book Section

Year Published



Morgan, S. Philip