Tuesday, May 11, 2021

2020 Drop in Births Is 9th Largest

The 143,000 drop in births in 2020 was the ninth largest single-year decline in more than a century of record keeping. What were the eight bigger declines? Take a look...

10 largest annual declines in births (and reason for decline)
1. 1972: -298,000 (birth of Generation X)
2. 1965: -267,000 (birth of Generation X)
3. 1919: -208,000 (Spanish flu pandemic)
4. 1948: -180,000 (taking a breather from increases immediately after World War II)
5. 1971: -175,000 (birth of Generation X)
6. 1922: -173,000 (taking a breather from increases immediately after World War I)
7. 1944: -165,000 (World War II)
8. 1966: -154,000 (birth of Generation X)
9. 2020: -143,000 (Covid pandemic)
10. 1933: -133,000 (Great Depression)

The birth years of Generation X account for 4 of the 10 largest annual declines in births (1965, 1966, 1971, and 1972). The original "baby bust" generation was born during the years 1965 through 1976. 

The third largest decline in births, in 1919, was a consequence of the Spanish flu pandemic. It remains to be seen whether the coronavirus pandemic will lead to a larger decline in births in 2021 than in 2020, but it's a possibility. Here's why. Covid's impact on births was fully realized only in the last month of 2020. December 2020 births were a substantial 8 percent below the number of births in December of 2019, a much larger decline than in any other month of the year. Most of those December births were conceived in March, at the very beginning of the pandemic. It's likely there also will be a substantial decline in the number of births conceived during the months of April, May, and June of 2020, reflecting the hesitancy of young adults to have children in the midst of a growing pandemic. The 2021 decline in births, if there is one, could be larger than the one in 2020.

Source: Demo Memo analysis of National Center for Health Statistics and Census Bureau data


S Pavon said...

Is the "birth of Gen X" really a reason on par with the other reasons for decline you mention? 1965 and 1966: War in Vietnam, growing inflation and 1971-1972 the Financial Crisis


Cheryl Russell said...

You're right. It's not really a "reason." But the dip in fertility during those years was substantial. Likely, the decline was due to more women going to college, entering the work force, delaying marriage and childbearing.