The United States recorded the lowest number of baby births in over 40 years in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic forced families to postpone or cancel plans to have children.
The birth rate in the United States has declined for the past six consecutive years, but is now at its lowest level since 1979. The estimated 3.6 million American babies born last year represent a drop of 4% per year. compared to the previous year. published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics.
The CDC does not attribute the drop directly to the pandemic, but experts have warned that the various crises caused or maximized by Covid-19 are having a direct impact on women’s fertility.
High unemployment rates, the scenario of economic uncertainty, the effects of the coronavirus on the mental health of families and even the fact that more people need to devote special attention to the recovery of family members are some of the factors that may be related to the reduction in the number of births.
Older data shows that the United States has experienced similar scenarios in other times of crisis. According to statistics from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), a nonprofit organization, America’s birth rate hit an all-time low in 1936, seven years after the stock market crash of 1929, which plunged the country into the so-called Great Depression.
As the country’s economy recovered, the United States experienced a population explosion, the so-called “baby boom”, mainly concentrated in the post-war period (1939-1945).
From the 1960s, however, the average fertility rate began to decline as a result of major social changes, such as the rise of feminist movements, the emergence of new and more effective methods of contraception, and, in 1973, legalization of abortion in the country. UNITED STATES.
In June last year, the Brookings Institute, a group of researchers based in the US capital, released a report estimating that the public health crisis caused by the coronavirus and the resulting economic recession would cause a drop of 300,000 to 500,000 births in 2021.
In December, researchers revised the estimate and kept it at 300,000 fewer births this year, but expressed reservations about factors whose impact on fertility had not yet been fully measured, such as closure of schools and daycares.
Another study by the Guttmacher Institute, which specializes in reproductive health, found that 34% of American women, due to the pandemic, were postponing their motherhood plans or lowering their expectations about the number of children they wanted to have.
In addition to uncertainty about the future, declining birth rates may also be linked to declining frequency and interest in sex.
A survey conducted in the first months of the pandemic in the United States by the Kinsey Institute showed that 43.5% of respondents reported a decline in their sex life, while 42.8% said they had not noticed any differences. and 13.6% noted improvements.