Birth rates during 1H2021 decreased as an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies suggest that the economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may impact fertility rates in the long term, even after the pandemic has abated or been resolved.
“Fertility rates are affected by economic recession and poverty with country-specific poverty rates across both emerging and developed economies leading to further variation in fertility rates,” reads Frontiers on Public Health study. However, while economic factors might have been the strongest reason for the decrease, they were not the only ones.
A quick analysis of this shift suggests that the number of weddings plummeted, which might have led some couples to postpone starting a family. “Lockdowns might have kept adolescents from socializing. A shift to longer-acting contraceptives, already underway before the pandemic, might have been a factor,” says the Washington Post. Health professionals and women’s advocates also point to growing attention to birth control in the US, where half of pregnancies had previously been unplanned.
During this period, Italy, Spain and Portugal had some of the largest drops, reporting reductions of 8.5, 9.1, 8.4 and 6.6 percent, respectively, found Scientific American.
Birth rates shed light on some indicators about a community’s health services and systems. For example, Walden University explains that developing countries still see higher birth rates overall, in part due to less access to contraception and family planning services. In addition, families in agricultural societies tend to have more children for their high economic value.
On the other hand, today’s young adults generally focus on their careers for longer, rather than on starting families. Community health researchers believe parents limit the number of children they have because of the high cost of raising them in modern society, allowing them to better allocate resources to fewer children.
In May 2021, Mexico’s National Population Council (CONAPO) estimated a 20 percent decrease in assistance to sexual and reproductive health services (SRHH) for women aged 20 to 49 years old, with an even greater drop of up to 30 percent among teenagers, which was a group already more vulnerable to the pandemic.
In 2021, CONAPO forecasted 129,336 more births between 2020 and 2021, with the largest increase concentrated in the less favored sectors of the population that historically have used less contraceptive methods and had more unmet needs for contraception.
On the contrary, and similarly to the first two quarters of 2021, data from 2020 showed a decrease in the entire year’s birth rate. “The 1,629,211 births registered during 2020 represent a decrease of 22.1 percent compared to those registered during 2019,” found INEGI.