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Research: The Covid Baby Bust Worsens Falling Fertility Rate in the United States

At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, some researchers thought the lock-downs and perhaps general boredom might lead to a baby boom in the United States. Others believed that economic anxiety resulting from layoffs would result in fewer pregnancies. It turns out that the latter group was correct. America is experiencing a Covid baby bust, exacerbating America's already decreasing birth rate.

It's still a bit early to tell how much the pandemic will depress births, but a recent study by the Guttmacher Institute found that many women have made a conscience decision to put off having children this year.

Newsweek: "Researchers found that 34% of the 2,009 American women surveyed have delayed plans to have a child and reduced the number of children they expect to have. The Guttmacher Institute survey concluded that 44% of black women, 48% of Hispanic women and 26% of white women planned to delay having a child or wanted fewer children due to the coronavirus pandemic."

The Guttmacher results are quite similar to those of a European study done by Francesca Luppi, Bruno Arpino and Alessandro Rosina. They found that many women in Germany, Italy, the UK, France and Spain planned to defer pregnancy until economic conditions improved. Their research seems to suggest that birth rate declines will be especially steep in Italy and the UK.

Brookings researchers have been following Covid related birth rate declines since last Spring and recently updated their projections. They now anticipate that there will be about 300,000 fewer births as a result of the coronavirus crisis, although they suggest the decline could be greater if the economic recovery is slower than anticipated.

Falling birthrates were already a cause of concern before the pandemic.

Illuminate: "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] reported yesterday that births fell again in 2019, to their lowest level in 35 years. American women are now projected to have just 1.71 children over their lifetimes, substantially below the rate of 2.1 needed to replace the prior generation. America has now been consistently below replacement level since 2007, and it's part of a trend impacting almost all highly developed nations."

Demographers warn that a lower fertility rate will depress the US economy.

Time: "The long-term impact of such delays [in having children] could be staggering. The U.S. fertility rate is the lowest it has been since 1985. We’re also a relatively elderly nation; by 2034, Americans over age 65 are expected to outnumber those under 18 for the first time in U.S. history. Already, the country faces a severe dearth of workers able to drive the economy and care for our aging population."

It would also mean fewer workers paying into Social Security and Medicare, fewer young people to serve in the military, bankrupt colleges, child-care facilities, and private schools, and fewer business start-ups. All of this would probably result in a greater dependence on immigration to fuel the economy, but that has cultural and political ramifications that could be problematic.

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By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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