The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released the latest US birth rates for 2020. These new statistics show an approximate 1% decline in births from 2018 to 2019. Approximately 3.7 million babies were born, with a decrease in births specifically to teen mothers and women in their twenties.
These numbers add to the theory that the United States is experiencing a “baby bust,” or a period where birth rates are steadily declining. With the exception of 2014, statistics show that births in the US have been on the decline since 2007.
What’s the Cause?
There are several factors that experts believe contribute to fluctuating birthrates. Everything from economics, pursuit of higher education, career choice to childcare can contribute to the decision to have a child.
The statistics show that women are waiting longer to begin having children. While the CDC’s latest information shows a decline in births for younger mothers, the birth rate among women in their early 40s is actually higher. The demographics of first-time mothers are changing and skewing to a later stage of life. This change also impacts the total number of children women have in their lifetime, since research shows that a woman’s fertility decreases after the age of 40.
The Pandemic Affect
The idea of “corona babies” or a baby boom as a result of the pandemic is believed to be “widely perceived as a myth,” according Hans-Peter Kohler, a University of Pennsylvania fertility researcher and the Associated Press. Historical research also shows that pandemics have a universally negative impact on birth rates.
In 1892 Jacques Bertillon, one of the pioneers of medical statistics, studied the impact of the influenza pandemic commonly known as the “Asiatic flu” of 1889 and showed a significant decline in births beginning approximately nine months after that pandemic. This decrease was experienced by all pandemic-affected countries. History would prove these medical statistics true several years later when the “Spanish flu” of 1918 showed a decline in birth rates and an increase in maternal mortality.
The medical impact of a pandemic is historically proven to decrease birth rates, but external factors may prove just as powerful for COVID-19. Many experts believe that the uncertainty of the economy combined with massive nationwide layoffs may affect many people’s decision to expand their family. The full impact of COVID 19 on the US and worldwide birth rates will not be fully realized until later next year when birth data is able to be compared year over year. But if history is any indicator, a pandemic is generally not a good indicator of a baby boom.