Already low, the birthrate during lockdown fell by 23%
It’s been nearly a year since western countries imposed lockdowns on their populations, and the details of its effects are beginning to emerge. A report in El Pais, a Spanish newspaper, has revealed that there was a 23% decline in childbirths in Spain for those born in December or January compared to the year before. This decline maps onto the period in which Spaniards were put under lockdown in March and April, resulting in an astonishing 13,141 babies fewer babies being born:
In those months, 45,054 babies were registered as a result of those days when the country was locked up at home, according to information from 3,929 computerised civil registries, corresponding to 93% of the population. There are 13,141 fewer children.
- El Pais
Equally concerning is that the lockdown appears to have accelerated an existing downward trend in Spanish births:
The 360,617 births in 2019 were the lowest figure in the entire historical series of the National Institute of Statistics, which begins in 1941, a record that also reached the first half of 2020. Just last January, the first full month in which the consequences of lockdown can be calibrated, 6,889 fewer babies were registered in the civil registry than in the same month of 2020. The difference is notable because in January 2020, 511 fewer children were registered than that month of 2019. The fall from 2019 to 2020 was 1.7%, but the following year is 23%. That is the pandemic.
- El Pais
Nor is this decline in birthrates confined to just Spain:
“…the data agrees with what we expected and what we are seeing in other countries,” explains Diego Ramiro, director of the Institute of Economics, Geography and Demography of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC). In December, the reduction in Italy was 21.6%. In January, births fell in France by 13%. “In some states of the United States such as Florida, California or Hawaii, there have been falls from 5% to almost 20%,” he adds.”
- El Pais
And contrary to a report in today’s Times, a post-pandemic baby boom is not expected:
Ramiro does not expect a rebound when the storm passes: “Apart from the epidemic crisis, we will have an economic crisis and we have already seen the effects of 2008, which has caused a sustained decline. Now we are entering a year of hiatus and we will have the lowest fertility levels ever in Spain”
- El Pais
First-time Spanish mothers, who at the age of 32 are already delaying pregnancy due to difficult economic conditions, are now trying to delay it for another two years because of the pandemic, which makes fertility “more complicated” and limits the opportunity to have a second child.
Given that the world is suffering from a global fertility shortage, it seems like the effects of the pandemic — and specifically lockdown — are going to make the situation far worse.