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  • Steven Reinberg
  • Posted September 20, 2021

Pandemic Tied to Declining Birth Rates for U.S., Much of Europe

Birth rates tend to fall during pandemics, and history is repeating itself with the COVID-19 scourge, researchers say.

Fewer babies have been born in much of Europe and the United States. Earlier in the pandemic, U.S. births declined 7%, a new study finds.

In Europe, birth declines varied. In Italy they dropped 9%, in Spain 8% and Portugal 7%, while in Denmark, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands birth rates did not go down.

"When compared to the large fall in southern Europe, the relative stability of [crude birth rates] in northern Europe points to the role of policies in support of families and employment in reducing any impact on births," the researchers noted.

"The bottom line is that there was a lot of variation across countries in the decline," said study co-author Seth Sanders, a professor of economics at Cornell University.

"We don't address why, but we think a lot of it has to do with the degree of economic disruption, coupled with the degree of social support in the absence of employment," Sanders said in a university news release.

For the study, the researchers used monthly live birth data for 22 high-income countries from January 2016 to March 2021. They then matched data on monthly live births with mid-year population estimates from the United Nations Population Division's World Population Prospects.

The report was published recently in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

For more on COVID-19, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: Cornell University, news release, Sept. 15, 2021

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