Many people expected a baby boom during the intimacy of widespread COVID-19 lockdowns, but a year later, statistics show just the opposite happened.
According to a new report by CBS News, birth rate data compiled by 27 states shows roughly a 7.2% decline in American births in December 2020, nine months after the pandemic was declared.
Hawaii posted a whopping 30.4% decline in births, while California, the most populous state, had 10.2% fewer births.
Sociologist Philip Cohen, a professor at the University of Maryland, told CBS News that December’s drop was the largest he is seen since the end of the baby boom in 1964.
“The scale of this is really large,” he said, adding the figures indicate things are not going well for families in the U.S.
“We don’t know if it’s the beginning of a bigger decline over the next whole year or if it’s just a shock from March,” Cohen said. “But I’m more inclined based on history that all of next year is going to be down for births.”
Last June, the Brookings Institution predicted there will be almost a half a million fewer births in 2021, but later revised those numbers to 300,000 less babies when the economy began to improve.
Every state that had birth rate data, except New Hampshire, reported fewer births. New Hampshire registered four additional births in the year 2020, compared to 2019.
The new findings by CBS News are in keeping with the results of a Guttmacher Institute study conducted last June that revealed more than 40% of women said COVID-19 changed their plans about when to have children or how many children they would have. Overall, one-third of the survey participants said they wanted to postpone pregnancy or have fewer children because of the pandemic.
Dr. Laura Lindberg, a principal research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute who authored the study, said the decline in births was historically much greater than the normal drop after turbulent times.
“The impact of COVID on our lives is unprecedented and it’s far from over right now,” she told CBS News. “Until people feel more confident about the economy and the state of the world, concerns about having children are going to continue.”
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