What's Causing America's Baby Bust?
When the COVID-19 pandemic started and lockdowns became part of our daily lives, some romantic souls were predicting that this would produce a baby boom.
Now, as the data shows up, we see exactly the opposite.
CBS obtained data from health departments in over two dozen states that shows "a 7% drop in births in December -- nine months after the first lockdowns began."
Research from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., predicts that births may well be down 300,000 to 500,000 in 2021.
The prediction is based on a negative correlation between birth rates and the unemployment rate. Higher unemployment means fewer babies.
Brookings also notes, contrary to what the romantics thought would happen, that surveys of couples, particularly those with young children at home, report declines in sexual activity.
But these COVID-related hits to birth rates really attach to a trend of declining fertility rates in the U.S. that has been going on for years.
In 2020, the U.S. fertility rate stood at 1.78. The fertility rate is the average number of children women have during their reproductive years. A fertility rate of 2.1 is needed to maintain stasis -- to have sufficient births to offset deaths so the total population size remains consistent and doesn't shrink.
It's evident that the U.S. is way below this and the rate keeps dropping. Just a decade ago, in 2010, the fertility rate stood at 2.06.
What's happening? Why aren't Americans making babies?