The New York Times published an opinion piece by two economics professors, Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip B. Levine, that looks into some of the causes and consequences of the declining birth rates.
The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the country into an economic recession and an unprecedented restructuring of our work and social lives. Early on, some likened the public health crisis to a blizzard, imagining that people would stay home, cozy up with their romantic partners and make babies.
These playful visions have given way to a more sobering reality: The pandemic’s serious disruption of people’s lives is likely to cause “missing births” — potentially a lot of them. Add these missing births to the country’s decade-long downward trend in annual births and we can expect consequential changes to our economy and society in the years to come. Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes.
(“Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes”? What? The easy fix is to incentive marriage and children, and disincentivize divorce and infertility. The government is already printing trillions of dollars, why not give some to couples who have kids?)
Research we did last year showed that the Covid pandemic would lead to a decline in U.S. births of about 8 percent, as compared with the number of expected births without a pandemic, resulting in 300,000 fewer births this year than would otherwise be expected. This prediction was based largely on the fact that economic factors affect people’s decisions about whether and when to have a baby.
School closures, public-gathering limits and social-distancing mandates are also likely to have an effect. Millions of parents are dealing with the stress of combining their work responsibilities with the need to supervise and teach their children who no longer attend school five days a week. This raises the “cost” of rearing children and can be expected to lead to fewer siblings being conceived this year.
Moreover, restrictions on social activities also mean some relationships that would have started in 2020 (and might have led to babies someday) never took root. We have no precedent to estimate changes in birthrates from these disruptions, but they will undoubtedly also contribute to a large reduction in overall births.
Recent data confirms the likelihood of a sizable “baby bust.” Surveys conducted this summer revealed that couples were intentionally putting their pregnancy plans on hold and having sex less often. Google searches for pregnancy-related terms, such as pregnancy tests, were down. Averted conceptions starting with the pandemic’s arrival in March 2020 would show up as missing births starting in December 2020. Official birth data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics will not be available for many more months, but some states have already released provisional birth data. In January 2021, which would be the first month in which all full-term babies born were conceived after the lockdown began, births fell by 7.2 percent in Florida and 10.5 percent in California, after adjusting for secular trends, seasonal variation and the use of provisional birth data.
In the absence of effective policies to meaningfully increase births, the most reliable and immediate way to shore up the U.S. population is through immigration, which brings its own political and social challenges. To maintain economic growth without immigration to offset the decline in births, we would need an increase in the share of working-age individuals employed or an increase in the productivity of workers, or both. But both employment rates and productivity have also been falling. Turning things around will require a significant investment of public resources to improve our country’s economic competitiveness.
The declining birthrate has been an issue for years, and the pandemic has pushed it into overdrive. This is likely to have demographic, social and economic implications for many years to come.
Every incentive now is to push down the white birth rate, and replace whites with nonwhites.
Do you think nonwhites are not having kids because of a fake virus? Blacks and Mexicans?
Of course they are.
The people that are skipping having kids are the people who plan to have kids, which are overwhelmingly going to be white. This is 300,000 fewer white babies.
This is just another very convenient coincidental result of the “pandemic.”