SALT LAKE CITY — There has been no dramatic increase in the number of babies born (or baby boom) in the United States as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, there has been a decline in the birth rate.
That’s one of the conclusions made in an exclusive report by CBS News. They gathered hospital data from more than two dozen American states and based on that data they reported a 7% drop in the number of births in December of 2020, nine months after COVID-19 lockdowns in many states began.
Why, when people were more often in close quarters for extended periods of time, wasn’t there a baby boom? For clarity, Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry spoke with Pam Perlich, Director of Demographic Research at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the University of Utah.
Concern was the greater motivating factor
While people were in closer proximity for longer periods of time, worry about the unknown took precedence over creating another member of the family.
“When the news first broke, we didn’t know what this thing was,” Perlich said. “We didn’t know how long it would last.
“So there was a lot of angst. A lot of anxiety.”
Watching the death toll reports from Italy, and then from New York City, added to the angst.
“So it wasn’t like a snow day, or a snow week, or a power outage,” Perlich said.
Instead, the pandemic caused people to wonder and to worry about the future and what it might look like.
A baby boom could still happen
The numbers gathered by CBS reporters may not tell the complete story. We may have a different picture when we look at the American birth rate in January 2021, representing what Americans were doing in April 2020.
By that time, we knew a little more about COVID-19.
“My suspicion is that we’ll see this tanking of births for a few months,” Perlich told Lee Lonsberry, “and then there will be some resumption in people having children as it became clear that this is going to be a one-and-a-half to two-year event.”
The bigger story may be a decline in fertility rates
Even if there is a boost in births next month, as Perlich expects, a bigger issue when looking at the American population may be a continuation of a declining fertility rate.
“Those continue a long march downward,” she told Lee.
According to the CBS report American women are now predicted to deliver 2 babies on average. That number was closer to four in the 1950s.
Perlich said that, along with choosing education or work before having a family, there is a new factor adding to the reasons that women put off having children.
“There’s a cost side to the story now,” she told Lee. “Having kids becomes a much more expensive proposition than, say, for baby boomers.
“The real cost of housing has exploded. The cost of quality daycare has become insurmountable for many people.”
You can listen to the entire segment below.
Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.
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