Birth rates in the United States declined to an “unusually low” level in the winter during the coronavirus pandemic, according to provisional monthly data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The data showed a downturn in births in winter 2020-2021, notably in the months of December 2020 and January 2021, with a rebound in March 2021.
Even without the pandemic, the bureau noted, it would have expected a dip in the winter, when birth rates are typically at their lowest. But even accounting for this pattern, the bureau said the number of births this past winter was “unusually low.”
The Census Bureau said there were 285,138 births in December 2020, 7.66 percent fewer than in December 2019 — or 763 fewer births per day.
January births saw an even greater year-to-year decline, down 9.41 percent from January 2020 to January 2021, while births in February saw a slighter year-on-year decrease.
The decline slowed further in March 2021, with a 0.15 percent decrease between 2020 and 2021— smaller than the 0.91 percent drop from March 2019 to March 2020.
The data suggests that some people may have chosen to delay having babies amid the pandemic. The decrease also might have been the result of stress or limited interaction with sexual partners.
But the bureau noted that U.S. births have been declining every year since 2008, with the exception of 2014.
Even in the months of 2020 before COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., there were fewer births than in those same months in 2019 — suggesting the U.S. may have already been on track to experience a decline in births without the pandemic, the Census Bureau noted.