U.S. birth rates during December 2020 and January 2021 were “unusually low” when compared to the year before and the months following, according to data from the Census Bureau.
The agency notes in an article released on Tuesday that “COVID-19 was declared a national emergency March 13, 2020. The largest percentage of babies conceived after that would be born during or after the first week of December 2020. Evidence that the pandemic affected fertility can be seen starting in December 2020.”
Although birth rates tend to decline in the winter, the birth rate last winter was notably lower than the year before.
“There were 285,138 births in December 2020 — 23,664 (7.66%) fewer than in December 2019. On average, there were 763 fewer births each day in December 2020 than in December 2019.”
The Bureau notes that “not all of the decrease in births should necessarily be attributed to the pandemic. The number of U.S. births has been declining every year since 2008 (except 2014) … But the decline was much steeper in 2020” than in the years before. “The average number of daily births was 4.06% lower than in 2019.”
The Census data also recorded “a noticeable decline in births especially in the summer,” which “suggests 2020 may have already been on track to experience a sharper decline in births than in previous years, even without the pandemic. It is also possible that the pandemic led to a higher rate of conceptions not being carried to term.”
The agency concludes that while it’s still too soon to tell what large-scale effects the pandemic has had on the U.S. birth rate, it does “indicate there was a temporary drop in births amid the pandemic after accounting for other factors that existed before the pandemic — declining births and seasonality.”
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