At the start of the pandemic, jokes were circulating about a possible increase in births due to containment measures imposed across the planet. Butbaby boom will not have taken place, according to several observers.
Quite the contrary, in fact. Whether it’s due to social distancing rules that limit opportunities to see certain partners, or the financial stress experienced by families or daycare closures, several factors appear to be causing a decline in births. Both planned and unplanned births.
392,000 and more – Number of children born on 1er January 2021 worldwide, according to UNICEF.
Data on children conceived during the pandemic, both in Quebec and elsewhere, will not be available for several months. With most countries confined their populations in March, the first births took place in late November and December, and the bulk of the cohort will be born in 2021.
But a recent assessment of the Brookings Institute, in the United States, maintains that there will probably be 300,000 fewer births in 2021 south of the border, compared to 2020. The Google Trends site also shows a significant decrease in the number of searches linked to sex and pregnancy.
“We do not yet know if there will be a baby boomSays Stuart Gietel Basten, demographer and professor of humanities and public policy at the University of Science and Technology of Hong Kong. “Babies take nine months to produce and then we have to wait for the statistics to be compiled. We will have a better idea of what happened with the births a little later in the year. “
“Fertility rates have been declining for several years in most countries of the world. We have even seen historically low rates in places where we did not expect them, such as Norway and Finland, ”he adds.
Gietel Basten believes that the changes we see in the birth rate will mainly be linked to factors that go beyond simple confinement. After all, the situation is far more complex than the idea of people staying at home having sex without contraception all day.
“It is important to keep in mind that a major event like a pandemic, or a recession, could impact only on the date when people decide to have children and not on the total number of children they have. will have in the end. A change in the total number of children per family will have a much greater impact and will not be able to be awarded for a long time. – Stuart Gietel Basten, demographer and professor of social sciences and public policies at the University of Science and Technology of Hong Kong
“The socioeconomic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic will disrupt couples’ plans. It will take another year to end the pandemic, for example to complete vaccination operations and revive the economy. We probably won’t see an increase in the number of births until 2022. ”-John F. May, research professor at George Mason University in the United States.
“In rich countries, if economic problems continue and the unemployment rate rises, we can expect to see a decrease in births similar to what we have seen in the past. On the other hand, in some countries where women’s rights and access to family planning are more fragile, we could well see an increase in the fertility rate, ”he concludes.
Three questions to …
Danny Dorling, Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford,
Has the COVID-19 pandemic caused ababy boom?
I have not seen any evidence of an increase in the number of unborn children due to the pandemic.
What are the trends in this regard?
Before the start of the pandemic, the number of children per family was declining and it was falling faster than the predictions of United Nations demographers.
What impact could confinement have on birth rates?
The pandemic has put a brake on the birth of new couples. People have met fewer people. In the past, pandemics have not been followed by baby booms. Rather, we mostly saw it after armed conflicts, especially World War I in Europe, as well as World War II all over the planet.