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Research shows pandemic may worsen already-declining birthrate

Fourteen Boys Now A Girl
Posted at 12:37 PM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-09 14:37:43-05

Fertility experts say fewer babies are being born these days, and new data shows the pandemic may have driven those numbers down even more.

In December, The Brookings Institute estimated births in 2020 would fall by 300,000 to 500,000 because of the pandemic and this is already on top of 2019, which saw the lowest birth rate in 35 years, according to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“This is like a very hectic, stressful time for people, so it may not lend itself to adding more chaos to the situation,” said Kim Parker, director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center.

Parker has been tracking the declining birth rate for years. She says it may not come as a surprise that there is a generational shift where young adults are more likely to choose a career over having children or having both.

Pew Research shows 55 percent of women say having an enjoyable career is essential to leading a fulfilling life.

“I just started a women’s golf clothing company so [I’m focused on] seeing that scale and get successful,” said Sammy Berger, 27.

Berger has been dating her boyfriend, Jason Diniz, for three years. The couple moved into a home together a few months ago and recently got a dog together, but they say a baby is still years down the road.

“I think we [millennials] are all a lot more selfish, myself included,” said Diniz, laughing.

According to the Brookings Institute, “There are reasons to believe that our prediction [of 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births] might understate the impact on fertility. Ongoing school closures are putting tremendous strain on families that may reduce their willingness to have more children. Restrictions on public gatherings and social encounters might mean fewer new couplings that could lead to pregnancies, intended or otherwise. The extended nature of this crisis also is likely to create large structural changes in the economy; a sizable share of the jobs lost will be permanent. The longer the duration of the income loss that workers expect, the more likely it is that delayed births will never happen. We did not attempt to make any predictions based on these additional factors because we had no previous context or data from which to draw empirical conclusions.”