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Remote work likely contributed to mini baby boom last year, economists say

The boom was large enough to reverse two years of the country’s declining fertility rate.

Story at a glance

  • A new working paper argues that remote work and federal COVID-19 stimulus funds helped create a “baby boom” in 2021.

  • The paper’s authors state that due to a small increase in fertility in 2020 and a “baby boom” in 2021, the pandemic led to a net increase of 46,000 children born to U.S. mothers.

  • The mini baby boom was the first major reversal of declining fertility rates since 2007.

Remote work might have led to a mini baby boom among women in the U.S., according to a new working paper. 

The paper, first reported by Axios, was published by three economists earlier this week. 

Authors found that the COVID-19 pandemic led to a net increase of 46,000 children born to U.S. mothers, which was the result of both a small increase in births among U.S.-born mothers in 2020 and a “baby bump” in 2021.  

Those births caused the nation’s fertility rate to jump by about 6.3 percent compared to pre-pandemic trends, the paper notes, and was enough of an increase to offset two years of declining fertility rates.  

“Our results suggest that unlike any other economic downturn in recent history, the COVID-19 recession increased rather than decreased fertility among U.S.-born women,” the paper reads.  

Authors found that the “baby bump” was the first major reversal in declining fertility rates in the United State since 2007. 

The paper’s findings also suggest that the pandemic led some women to start families earlier since the “bump” was most pronounced among U.S-born women under the age of 25.  

Authors argue that the reason behind the “baby bump” was a combination between the federal government’s COVID-19 stimulus checks and a spike in remote work during the pandemic.  

College-educated women between the ages of 30 and 34, who were more likely to benefit from working at home, also experienced a baby bump. 

In response to the millions of American workers who had their jobs affected by the pandemic, the federal government spent more than $750 billion in unemployment benefits.  

That influx of cash caused the rate of poverty to fall among every race and age group in the U.S. in 2020, according to the report.  

Meanwhile, there was an unprecedented rise in remote work among more educated Americans with 40 percent of their workdays still at home by spring of last year.  

Another reason authors believe might have caused the increase in births was a lack of access to reproductive health care and abortion during the pandemic.