Amid steady forecasts of demographic decline, one economics professor told CNA that a COVID-related “baby bust” could be worse than people predicted.
A Brookings Institution report published in June said that the economic shock caused by the coronavirus, combined with the social effects of the pandemic itself, could trigger a sharp decline in births.
Those predictions should not be dismissed, Dr. Catherine Pakaluk, a professor of social research and economic thought at the Catholic University of America, told CNA, noting that economic uncertainty can have a direct correlation with the birthrate.
“The money and the numbers tend to correlate with all the things we think matter for human flourishing,” she said, such as the “ability to grow and form families.”
In the Brookings report, authors Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine warned that the coronavirus pandemic might cause a “baby bust” rather than the “baby boom” some assumed could follow months of lockdowns.
They said that two events—the surge in deaths and anxiety brought on by the pandemic, and the economic decline resulting from lockdown measures—would both cause a drop in the birthrate from “300,000 to 500,000 fewer births next year.”
“The circumstances in which we now find ourselves are likely to be long-lasting and will lead to a permanent loss of income for many people,” Kearney and Levine wrote.