Story at a glance
- The birth rate in the United States has been declining for years, falling to a record low in 2020.
- Hopes of a second “baby boom” mirroring that of the mid-1900s have been dashed by the coronavirus pandemic.
- A new report by NBCLX found that birthrates are dropping at a faster rate than in previous years.
If the United States was banking on another baby boom after the Great Recession, the coronavirus pandemic has set it even further back.
After falling to a record low in May, the birth rate has continued dropping at a faster rate than the previous year, reported NBCLX. And research shows Americans aren't even thinking about having children as much as they used to, with drops in Google searches for pregnancy- and sex-related topics.
“People make long-term decisions when they have confidence about the future, and if there's anything that undermines confidence about the future, it's this massive pandemic,” Philip Cohen, a sociologist and demographer at the University of Maryland, told NBCLX.
Over the past decade, the United States population grew by just 6.6 percent, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, slower than any other decade in American history — including the Great Depression. One report estimated that the pandemic and associated recession would result in 300,000 fewer births, although ongoing school and day care closures could increase that estimate.
Meanwhile, the baby-boom generation, one of the largest until the millennial generation, is growing older and living longer. Unless something changes, an aging population will disproportionately depend on a decreasing workforce.
“This is a bad situation,” Cohen told NBCLX. “The declines we're seeing now are … pretty substantial.”
That something could be immigration, which was heavily restricted under the previous administration but could see changes under President Biden. But with the pandemic still raging despite the development of vaccines, this is not likely to happen soon.
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