Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Don't Expect a Baby Boom

If you think the Covid-19 stay-at-home orders will lead to a boom in births next year, think again. Rather than a boom, expect a "large, lasting baby bust," according to a Brookings analysis. Researchers Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip Levine estimate that the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus will result in 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births in 2021 than would normally have occurred. They come to this conclusion after studying the fertility decline of the Great Recession and the 1918 Spanish Flu.

Birth rates, they point out, are pro-cyclical. They rise when times are good and fall when times are bad. These are very bad times. "An analysis of the Great Recession leads us to predict that women will have many fewer babies in the short term, and for some of them, a lower total number of children over their lifetimes," say the researchers. If the unemployment rate remains high in 2021 and beyond, the Covid baby bust could be even worse than they estimate, the researchers warn. Many more births will be delayed, and some births will never happen. The Covid-19 baby bust will be "yet another cost of this terrible episode," they conclude.

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