Last year, the United States witnessed the lowest number of births in over 35 years and the figure may continue to fall amid the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
This decrease is the latest sign of a prolonged national “baby bust” that’s been going on for more than a decade. Some experts are of the view that the coronavirus crisis and its impact on the economy will suppress the numbers further. “This unpredictable environment, and anxiety about the future, is going to make women think twice about having children,” said Dr Denise Jamieson, chair of obstetrics and gynaecology at Emory University.
The latest data was released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday. The preliminary report is based on a review of more than 99 per cent of birth certificates issued last year. The CDC noted that the total number of births fell about 1 per cent from 2018 to about 3.7 million.
With 2014 as an exception, the number of births in the United States has been falling steadily since 2007, when a recession hit the country. However, the decrease continued even after the economy rebounded.
Many women and couples delay childbearing and have fewer kids once they start. The economy is a factor, but not because of short-term cycles in hiring. Many jobs are low-paying and unstable, and that coupled with high rents and other factors have caused women and couples to be much more cautious about having kids, said John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health.
The idea that there will be a lot of “coronababies” is “widely is widely perceived as a myth,” said Hans-Peter Kohler, a University of Pennsylvania fertility researcher.