Taps Coogan – September 7th, 2021
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In the early days of the lockdowns, there was a theory floating around that Covid might lead to a mini baby-boom as couples were cooped up together for months and forced to reevaluate various aspects of their lives.
That theory quickly gave way to an opposite reality: people tend to put off having children during periods of uncertainty, recession, and despair. Early data confirmed that fertility rates dropped significantly last year in the US and most developed countries. In fact, the combined effect of increased mortality and decreased fertility pushed the US birth-to-death ratio to barely over ‘1’ last year and lead to the first decline in the US working age population on record.
But as time moves forward, the question becomes: will birth rates bounce back or even over compensate?
The following chart, from a study in PNAS, confirms significant declines in several developed economies but also hints that a mini-baby boom may be looming on the horizon.
Crude Birth Rates relative to 2016–2019 Average
While recent data for the US is not yet available, birth rates in Switzerland, the Netherlands, France, and Finland have already rebounded to higher than their respective pre-Covid levels. That hasn’t happened in all the examined countries and some of that bounce may simply represent people ‘making up for lost time.’ However, the examples of the Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, and France suggest that the bounce may be snapping the long term trend of declining fertility rates.
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