The pandemic may result in 300,000 to 500,000 fewer babies born in the U.S. Lockdowns and fear kept young people from meeting and marrying, and the economic hardship discouraged many young couples from having kids.
Among the 32 states that had annual data available, there were about 95,000 fewer births in 2020 compared with the year prior, a decline of roughly 4.4 percent. Meanwhile, a Guttmacher Institute survey showed that as a result of the pandemic, 34 percent of American women have either put off plans to have children or reduced the number they expect to have. There may be a rebound when the pandemic ends, but research scientist Laura Lindberg said the shock and chronic uncertainty of the last year will linger. “Until people feel more confident about the economy and the state of the world,” she said, “concerns about having children are going to continue.”
Nearly 30 percent of the world’s countries have officially adopted pro-natalist policies to encourage their citizens to have kids. Hungary, which saw its fertility rate reach an all-time low of 1.23 in 2011, is spending 5 percent of GDP on policies such as free treatment at nationalized IVF clinics for women under 40, upfront loans to newlyweds that can be written off with each birth, and even a lifetime exclusion from income tax for moms with three or more kids.
Poland is giving moms about $140 per child per month; Russia is giving parents with two or more children one-off payments of about $8,100; and South Korea has spent $130 billion on a similar program since 2006. Evidence suggests, however, that these payments produce mostly short-term gains in fertility: Women have children earlier, but not more of them. In Alaska, where residents’ share of oil revenues is based on the number of kids they have, the long-term gains in fertility were negligible. “Single policy measures are unlikely to increase fertility,” said researchers from the Wittgenstein Centre, a Vienna-based group that studies population dynamics. High-quality public day care, research shows, is the only policy that leads to significant increases in the number of babies women choose to have.
(First published in The Week magazine).
My comment: We need enough up and coming younger people to help pay for the oldies, like myself. Otherwise I can only think that, faced with catastrophic climate change, a drop in population is a benefit to the planet.