U.S. birth rate during pandemic seems to be steadily declining, despite baby boom predictions

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(WSYR-TV)– The baby boom that some people predicted would happen as couples hunkered down together when the pandemic began has turned out to be a bust. 

In fact, the birth rate here in the U.S. declined for the sixth straight year in 2020, early evidence that COVID accelerated a trend among American women of delaying pregnancy.

Births were down most sharply at the end of the year, when babies conceived at the start of the pandemic would have been born. The number of babies born in December dropped by about 8 percent in comparison with the same month the year before. 

Over the entire year, births declined by 4 percent, the data showed. There were 3,605,201 births in the United States last year, the lowest number since 1979. The birth rate, measured as the number of babies per thousand women ages 15 to 44 – has fallen by about 19 percent since its recent peak in 2007.

We know that births tend to dip after economic crises, as women put off having babies because of income uncertainty. The birth rate dropped sharply in the early 1930s, after a stock market crash precipitated the Great Depression. 

It picked up a few years later, once the economy started to bounce back. However, the recent decline, which began after the Great Recession in 2008, has continued despite improvements in the economy.

The U.S. birth rate is now the lowest it’s ever been. Combined with a substantial leveling-off of immigration and rising deaths, our population over the past decade expanded at the second-slowest rate since the government started counting in the 18th century. 

The pandemic, which pushed the death rate higher and the birth rate even lower, appears to have deepened that trend.

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