Baby Bust: Study Predicts Half Million Less Births In The US In Wake Of Coronavirus

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WASHINGTON D.C. (VINnews) — A Brookings Institute research report predicts that the coronavirus will not cause a baby boom and may even lead to half a million less births in the US over the next year.

The report states that economic recessions generally lead to lowered fertility rates. It cites historic data from the period of the 2007-2009 recession as well as the period of the Spanish flu in 1918. The 2007-2009 recession led to a large decline in birth rates, after a period of relative stability. In 2007, the birth rate was 69.1 births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44; in 2012, the rate was 63.0 births per 1,000 women. That nine percent drop meant roughly 400,000 fewer births.

Economists Phillip Levine and Melissa Kearney contend that economic factors matter when people plan how many children they will have.

“Children come at a cost. They require outlays of money, time, and energy. Certainly, they are also a source of joy and love. In the analytical terms of economic modeling, adults “choose” the quantity of children that maximizes their lifetime well-being subject to the costs associated with childbearing. Such a framework predicts, all else equal, that a higher level of lifetime income leads people to have more children,” the report states, suggesting that if the recession is short-term it may not seriously impact overall childbirth rates but simply delay people’s decisions about when to have their children. However a deeper and longer lasting recession could mean lower lifetime income for some people, and consequently some women will not just delay births, but they will decide to have fewer children.

Levine and Kearney conclude based on estimated unemployment rates as well as the unprecedented public health crisis and the uncertainty and anxiety it creates that there will be an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 less births over the next year in the US, with additional reductions in births if the labor market remains week in the coming years.

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