A new report published by economists for the Brookings Institution suggests there could be up to half a million less babies born in the United States next year due to the coronavirus. The economic recession that the pandemic sparked will have a far-reaching impact, with economists Melissa S. Kearney and Phillip Levine writing there could be "on the order of 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births next year."
The estimates were derived from data of birthrates during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 and the 1918 flu pandemic. During both of those periods, birthrates were lower than usual. During the Great Recession in particular, states that were hit with more job losses experienced a sharper reduction in birthrates from 2008-2011. "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," the report notes, which is around a nine percent drop.
Obviously, the main impact is that raising children for many is more of a financial decision than anything else, and tough times money wise often result in would-be parents delaying their decision to have kids. As both Kearney and Levine added, birthrates are "procyclical," which means they often rise or fall depending on the health of the economy. It's also worth pointing out that would-be mothers in America didn't have more kids in the wake of the 1918 flu pandemic.
The reports concludes that the half a million figure is more of a "best-case scenario," and if the unemployment rate continues to stay high going in 2021, the impact could be even larger. "The circumstances in which we now find ourselves are likely to be long-lasting and will lead to a permanent loss of income for many people," the report adds. "We expect that many of these births will not just be delayed—but will never happen."
Earlier this month, some relationship coaches such as Lee Wilson told USA Today there could be a boom in divorces following the pandemic, as well.