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We Say Boom, But History Says Bust: Will COVID cause a decline in births?

Divorce Up, Unemployment Up, Unstable Economy

Nurses Disasters Article   posted

Brenda F. Johnson specializes in Gastrointestinal Nursing.

There are many theories floating around about the COVID 19 virus. Some of them are about the virus itself, others are about the long term effects that the virus and the quarantine will have on us physically and economically. Long term issues, such as birth rate, is speculation at this point.

We Say Boom, But History Says Bust: Will COVID cause a decline in births?
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Future Trends - Births

As stated in the introduction, future trends related to the Covid-19 virus are pure speculation. What we can look at to give us an idea of how America will respond, is to look at what has happened in the past. But first, let’s look at what the Census Bureau said about projected births in the United States in their article, “Demographic Turning Points for the United States: Population Projections for 2020 to 2060”, by Vespa, Armstrong, and Medina. 

Fewer Births

Vespa states that the American population is aging, and by 2030, all baby boomers will be over 65 years of age (2020). That means that one in five Americans will have reached retirement age. Going a step further, he projects that for the first time in history, older adults will outnumber children (Vespa, 2020). So without the virus factor, America was already looking at lowered birth rates. 

Increase in Divorce, Domestic Abuse, Suicide

Many of my friends and I have joked about there being a baby boom because of the quarantine. However, we hear about an increase in divorce, domestic abuse, and suicide. Considering these tragedies, it leads one to deduce that there will not be an increase in births. There are several articles about divorce rates being increased since the pandemic, but not a lot of data. However, in China, there have been record filings, which makes sense due to the fact that they have had a longer period of time in quarantine with Covid (Wall, 2020). Xi’an, the capital of the Shaanxi Province has “seen an unprecedented number of divorce filings (Wells, 2020).

Unstable Economy 

In the article, “Half a Million Fewer Children? The Coming COVID Baby Bust”, by Kearney and Levine, tells us that the economic condition that has been caused by COVID will drastically decrease birth rates (2020). Kearney speculates that there will be up to 500,000 fewer births in the year 2021 (2020). What they are basing their number on, is America’s history. In the past, when the country has experienced a recession, the birth rate falls. When families experience unemployment and reduced wages, their security is threatened. Looking back at the Great Recession, just a few years ago in 2007 to 2009, the birth rate dropped by 9% over the five years after the recession (Kearney, 2020). 

Unemployment rates directly correlate with lower births. With a one percentage point increase in unemployment, a parallel of a 0.9 percent decrease in births (Kearney, 2020). Looking even further back into history at the Spanish Flu, we see the correlation of mortality rates and birth rates being inverse (Kearney, 2020). However, the years of the Spanish Flu did not involve an economic recession, and women did not have access to birth control as they do now. Unlike during the Spanish Flu when all ages died from it,  COVID related deaths are significantly higher in people 45 and over (CDC, 2020). The age group 34 and below have a very low number of deaths (CDC, 2020). So the death rate and birth rate should not be parallel involving COVID as in other epidemics   

It has been shown that families who are more financially stable have more children (Kearney, 2020). Anxiety and uncertainty is a huge deterrent for families wanting to start or expand their family. People do not know how impacted they will be financially in the future, leading to putting off having children or deciding not to have any. We do not know what our country will look like in six months, or how our birth rate will be. Only in the future will we be able to answer the multitude of questions that plague us presently. 

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Another aspect of humanity is that drug abuse and binge alcohol use escalates during financial crises as shown in the article, “Binge Alcohol and Substance use Across Birth Cohorts and the Global Financial Crises in the United States” (Yang, Roman-Urrestarazu, and Brayne, 2018). Drug and alcohol use leads to unemployment, and poor health (Yang, 2018). This slippery slope is associated with economic instability, poor relationships, isolation, and many more debilitating issues. Being that there is an uptick of drug and alcohol abuse since the quarantine, common sense tells us that this leads to higher rates of mortality and divorce which leads to fewer babies.

There are many reasons that Americans may be having fewer babies in the next few years. COVID will be blamed for many of them due to the devastating effect it has had on our country. What will happen remains to be seen, and we can learn from what we see.

Will there be a boom or a bust? You tell me.

References

Kearney & Levine. 2020. Half a Million Fewer Children? The Coming COVID Baby Bust. Brookings

Vespa, Armstrong & Medina. 2020. Demographic Turning Points for the United States: Population Projections for 2020 to 2060. United States Census Bureau.

Wall. 2020. Divorce Rates and COVID 19. States Attorney.

Yang, Roman-Urrestarazu, & Brayne. 2018. Binge Alcohol and Substance Use Across Birth Cohorts and the Global Financial Crises in the United States. PLOS

Brenda F. Johnson, BSN, RN Specialty: 25 years of experience in Gastrointestinal Nursing

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A Hit With The Ladies specializes in Psych.

I think it's pretty clear there will be a baby bust. Who wants to go to prenatal care and have a hospital birth in uncertain circumstances?

All in all, Earth is horrifically overpopulated. A baby bust is a great thing. The ecosystem just might not collapse after all! But we still have to deal with surging population growth in Africa and South Asia, though.

HiddencatBSN specializes in Peds ED.

On 7/16/2020 at 8:53 AM, A Hit With The Ladies said:

I think it's pretty clear there will be a baby bust. Who wants to go to prenatal care and have a hospital birth in uncertain circumstances?

All in all, Earth is horrifically overpopulated. A baby bust is a great thing. The ecosystem just might not collapse after all! But we still have to deal with surging population growth in Africa and South Asia, though.

The surging population in Africa and South Asia are responsible for minimal carbon emissions compared to population stable or declining industrialized countries. It’s not about the number if people but the resources they use and take up, and that’s all potentially modifiable and mitigatable. 

Nothing to do during the scamdemic lockdowns, so.... there is going to be a boom. And don’t @ me with your fauxvid outrage. We know what it is and what it isn’t. ❤️

On 7/16/2020 at 8:53 AM, A Hit With The Ladies said:

I think it's pretty clear there will be a baby bust. Who wants to go to prenatal care and have a hospital birth in uncertain circumstances?

All in all, Earth is horrifically overpopulated. A baby bust is a great thing. The ecosystem just might not collapse after all! But we still have to deal with surging population growth in Africa and South Asia, though.

Overpopulated? You need to take a road trip through Kansas. Maybe Nebraska and the dakotas. Earth is empty. 

simba and mufasa has 16 years experience.

Great article

I think there will be a baby boom, a pregnancy takes nine months, by then hospitals will be ready and safe for delivering babies. I hope people take time to have children, one or two will not break the bank, honestly, I think its such a joy.

Mum of two

simba

8 minutes ago, simba and mufasa said:

Great article

I think there will be a baby boom, a pregnancy takes nine months, by then hospitals will be ready and safe for delivering babies. I hope people take time to have children, one or two will not break the bank, honestly, I think its such a joy.

Mum of two

simba

Children are a blessing.  They are also a challenging consideration for millions of Americans who are unemployed, have no health insurance, are behind in rent or mortgage payments and may be facing homelessness.  I hope that we are better prepared to provide safe obstetrical care in 9 months, but honestly, our trajectory as we enter influenza season is not encouraging at all. 

Is there some evidence that the vehemently anti masking members of our society are changing their behavior? It is encouraging that so many businesses are REQUIRING masks.  That business effort is necessary in the face of completely ineffective political leadership at the highest level.  The governor of Georgia is even suing the mayor of Atlanta  (personally) for her mask mandate in the city.  

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