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COVID baby boom was a bust: Five states report up to 50,000 fewer births since pandemic began

Early in the pandemic, many experts predicted that lockdowns at stay-at-home orders would lead to a surge in births.

In fact, the opposite happened. As it turns out, Americans have not been getting pregnant.  

There are five U.S. states that have provided preliminary birth data for 2020: Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii and Ohio, all of which showed declines last year, according to a DailyMail.com analysis of state health department data.

In 2019, there were a total of 898,646 births in these states. The following year, there were 817,394 babies born.

This means, in these five states, there were more than 81,000 fewer birth last year compared one year prior.

Meanwhile, New York University (NYU) Langone Health has seen a 33 percent increase in egg freezing as a record number of  couples put off having children  

In five states – California, Arizona, Hawaii, Ohio and Florida, there were a total of 898,646 in 2019 compared to 817,394 babies born in 2020 – meaning there were 81,000 fewer births (above)

Florida has seen an 4.9% decrease (left) in births from 2019 to 2020 and California has seen a 13.7% decrease (right)

Florida has seen an 4.9% decrease (left) in births from 2019 to 2020 and California has seen a 13.7% decrease (right)

One of the biggest drops in births was seen in California, which saw 447,834 babies born in 2019.

But, in 2020, this number fell to 386,288, representing an 13.7 percent decrease. 

‘These are, to put it mildly, very larges declines in historical terms,’ Dr Philip Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Maryland told Bloomberg in regards the California drop. 

‘One thing we don’t yet know is how much of this is driven by people moving around, rather than just changes in birth rates.’ 

However, demographers and public policy experts say one of the factors driving this is uncertainty over the economy.  

The pandemic has plunged the US into a recession that will likely last for many months with an unemployment rate at 6.3 percent.

Similarly, the the Great Recession of 2008-09 already caused a drop in births.

In 2007, the birth rate was 69.1 births per 1,000 women. By 2012, the rate fell by nine percent to 63.births per 1,000, which means about 4,000 fewer births occurred.

Findings from a 2009 Guttmacher Institute survey examining how the 2008 recession affected women’s choices to have children are similar to findings from a 2020 survey on this issue related to COVID-19.

In 2009, 31 percent of women surveyed said they wanted to have children later than previously planned due to the recession. Twenty-eight percent said they wanted future children than previously planned.

In 2020, 36 percent of women said they wanted to have children later than previously planned and 27 percent said they wanted fewer children due to the pandemic.

Overall, the 2020 survey found that more than 40 percent of women reported that that the coronavirus crisis made them change their plans about when to have children or how many children to have. 

A recent study found that 31% of women said they wanted to have children later than previously planned due to the 2009 recession. These are similar rates to 36% who said they wanted to wait due to the pandemic (above)

A recent study found that 31% of women said they wanted to have children later than previously planned due to the 2009 recession. These are similar rates to 36% who said they wanted to wait due to the pandemic (above)

The findings make it clear that trends during the pandemic are mirroring the Great Recession.  

‘U.S. birth rates diminished following the onset of the Great Recession and have yet to recover,’ Dr Kenneth Johnson, a professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, told DailyMail.com last year.

Now the country faces an economic decline even greater than that during the recession, plus considerable health risks to the population and a reluctance to visit health care facilities for non-emergency care.’

For others, both couples and single women are likely experiencing fear and anxiety over the public health crisis and its uncertain end. 

This has led many to freeze their eggs, which a  a method used to save women’s ability to get pregnant in the future 

NYU Langone's Fertility Center in New York said it has seen a 33% increase in egg freezing between June and November 2020. Among the women choosing to freeze their eggs are 34-year-old Kelli Wheeler (above)

NYU Langone’s Fertility Center in New York said it has seen a 33% increase in egg freezing between June and November 2020. Among the women choosing to freeze their eggs are 34-year-old Kelli Wheeler (above)

NYU Langone’s Fertility Center in New York said it has seen a 33 percent increase egg freezing between June and November 2020, reported The Wall Street Journal.   

Dr Brooke Hodes-Wertz, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at NYU Langone, told the newspaper that some of the increase is due to demand that came after lockdowns in spring 2020. 

‘We thought we’d see a decrease in people coming to us as starting a cycle might not be a priority in a pandemic,’ she said.

‘A lot of women in New York City who have stable incomes have had time to reflect during the pandemic, and they’ve also had the physical time to start a cycle because they’re not traveling.’   

Among the women freezing their eggs are Kelli Wheeler, a 34-year-old from Los Angeles who began examining her fertility after her boyfriend broke up with her in April 2020.

‘Even if I met a guy quite quickly, I was three or four years away from having kids because I’d want some time where it was just the two of us,’ Wheeler told The Journal.

‘I began looking into ways I could take control of my fertility, without a man.’ 

After a consultation at a fertility clinic, Wheeler said she has decided to freeze her eggs, and will have them thawed in three years if she is still single and fertilized with donor sperm. 

‘Because I’m not rushing to work everyday, the pandemic has given me the time to sit down and process big decisions about my future,’ Wheeler told The Journal.

‘Could I be a single mother? I know it wouldn’t be easy and I’d like to meet someone before I have to make that decision, but giving myself the choice feels so powerful.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk