Census Bureau: US Births Decline Sharply Since Pandemic

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In new data presented by the US Census Bureau: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected both the beginning and end of the life cycle for the U.S. population: Births declined and mortality went up.

Provisional monthly data show a downturn in births in winter 2020-2021 but there were signs of a possible rebound by March.

While the data indicates the pandemic caused the decline, other factors were taken into account by officals too.

Among them: 

  • Births in the United States have a seasonal pattern.
  • The number of U.S. births has declined every year since 2008 (except for 2014).
  • There are similar patterns in other countries. 

COVID-19 was declared a national emergency March 13, 2020. The largest percentage of babies conceived after that would be born during or after the first week of December 2020. Evidence that the pandemic affected fertility can be seen starting in December 2020.

Comparing one month during the pandemic to the same month before the pandemic shows a substantial drop that can’t be explained by seasonality.

There were 285,138 births in December 2020 — 23,664 (7.66%) fewer than in December 2019. On average, there were 763 fewer births each day in December 2020 than in December 2019.

The release continues, saying:

Not all of the decrease in births should necessarily be attributed to the pandemic. The number of U.S. births has been declining every year since 2008.

Between 2000 and 2019, the number of daily births declined an average 0.39% a year. The pace of decline accelerated between 2010 and 2019, when the number of daily births dropped on average 0.96% a year. 

But the decline was much steeper in in 2020: The average number of daily births was 4.06% lower than in 2019.

Figure 2 shows births by year and month in the U.S. Even in the pre-pandemic months of 2020, there were fewer births each month than in 2019.

There was a noticeable decline in births especially in the summer. The summer decline suggests 2020 may have already been on track to experience a sharper decline in births than in previous years, even without the pandemic.

It is also possible that the pandemic led to a higher rate of conceptions not being carried to term.