The average birth rate in the United States is expected to decline for 2021. As Coronavirus continues to spread across much of the United States, the Center For Disease Control reports over 3 million total cases, 130,000 reported deaths, and numbers still on the rise daily. The rapid spread of this virus has caused much of the country to initially shut down with a slow reopening, and countless jobs lost leaving the United States in a recession. Planning to start or continuing to grow a family does not pair well with unemployment rates through the roof, hospitals jammed pack with sick people or the thought that human contact could affect any part of pregnancy.
At the start of this pandemic, individuals joked that the birth rates come nine months from the “stay at home” order would skyrocket. It is most likely those same people say the same thing when there is a blizzard causing blackouts for days or weeks. What those jokesters didn’t see coming is that the birth rate for 2021 could see nearly half a million fewer babies being born. This information is based on economic studies of fertility behavior, the Great Recession from 2007-2009, and the Spanish Flu in 1918.
The Birth Rate In The United States Depends On Economics
Most parents can tell you that just the mere process of having a baby costs money let alone the costs to raise them annually. From diapers to childcare and everything in between, the average cost to raise a child year one is roughly $12,000 and increases annually from there. Add to that a pandemic, potential unemployment, or furloughed positions due to the uncertainty of the economy and you have a perfect storm. Not many people are going to want to start a family or grow a family if one or both parents are out of a job which could be contributing to the declining birth rate in the United States.
In today’s world, most families rely on the woman’s income for financial support which makes a difference in a family’s economic security. Unfortunately, the United States doesn’t provide a paid leave policy. Employers can provide their employees with job protective leave, which protects their position and overall employment, but basically leaves a new mother or father without pay after the birth of a child (FMLA). Economic and social instability is not the ideal situation to be adding expenses when the future is so uncertain. So don’t expect to see as many spring babies next year.
Other Contributing Factors
In addition to COVID-19 affecting birth rates from an economic perspective, many individuals are also postponing and rescheduling weddings. You might be thinking, now what does a delayed wedding have to do with having babies. Think about it. With fewer people getting married this year it is most likely those individuals will be waiting to start a family, maybe at least until after they say “I Do”. The Knot reports 96% of their couples are rescheduling rather than canceling their weddings altogether. So basically in a couple of years, we can blame a baby boom on all the COVID-19 wedding couples who rescheduled from 2020. Just kidding (or not)!
A recent study released reported women of childbearing age are changing their plans for having children or how they have children due to the pandemic. A study of 2,000 women reported that 34% of those surveyed are wanting to delay pregnancy and possibly even have fewer children. That might not come as a surprise because of current childcare burdens and school closures with no exact idea of how classes might look in the fall.
It is projected that in addition to COVID-19 putting a toll on the economy and the birth rate in the United States for 2021, we could see a further decline for years to come. If a weak labor market lingers and the unemployment rate continues to increase, many people may find themselves in a permanent position of loss of income rather than a temporary one. The public health crisis of 2020 looks to be doing more than just temporarily delaying birth; this crisis may reduce the birthrate by ensuring these births never even happen.
Contraceptive Spike Contributing To Declining Birth Rates
The declining birth rate in the United States might have not have been expected as a result of COVID-19 nor was the spike in birth control orders. The digital health clinic Nurx reported a 50% increase in patient requests for birth control and a 40% increase in emergency contraception requests. In addition to the spike in birth control, there has also been a change in the method. While the birth control pill is usually the preferred method, there has been an increased interest in the shot since it lasts for three months and can be done at home.
USA Today reported that the Center For Disease Control has released a study that discloses pregnant women are five times more likely to be hospitalized if they contract COVID-19. Being a first-time parent can be scary enough without adding in the potential for hospitalizations. It is no wonder that contraceptives might be at the forefront of a woman’s mind during all of this!
The pandemic is doing more than just making people stay home, wear masks, and social distance. It is contributing to a declining economy and birth rate in the United States. Couples who were wanting to start a family or considering adding more children are reconsidering due to financial insecurities and overall anxiety about what the future holds. The once thought baby boom of 2021 might be the next baby bust.
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on How To Cope With Anxiety During The Coronavirus – For Parents.
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