Births fell in countries with long lockdowns: stress and fear of the future seen as possible reasons
A Covid Baby Boom? No, birth rates fell in countries with the longest lockdowns: stress and fear of the future seen as possible reasons for fewer pregnancies
- The birth rate fell by an average of 14 percent in 24 European countries in 2020
- In England and Wales, the birth rate fell by 13 percent in January last year
- Birth rates were more likely to fall in countries that imposed longer lockdowns
- Babies born in Spain – which had an eight-week lockdown – fell by 23 percent
- Yet the declining birth rate did not occur in Sweden, where there was no lockdown
A baby boom was widely predicted after we were forced to stay at home during the Covid lockdowns.
But a study now suggests the opposite happened, with couples becoming more reluctant to start or expand a family.
After the first wave of the pandemic and lockdown in the spring of 2020, birth rates fell by an average of 14 percent, according to a study in 24 European countries.
In England and Wales, the birth rate fell by 13 percent in January last year, about nine months after the first lockdown began.
And interestingly, the plummeting birth rate in most countries last January did not take place in Sweden, which had no lockdown.
After the first wave of the pandemic and lockdown in the spring of 2020, birth rates fell by an average of 14 percent, according to a study in 24 European countries. Chart shows: Birth rate changes in 24 European countries since January 2020
Baby boom was widely predicted after we were forced to stay home during the Covid lockdowns (file photo)
Birth rates are more likely to fall in the countries with the longest lockdowns, including England and Wales, and Scotland, whose 103-day lockdowns were the longest of any of the countries analysed. The biggest birth rate drop, of 28 percent, was seen in Lithuania, which had the second-longest lockdown at 94 days.
The number of babies born fell by 23 percent in both Spain, where people were confined to their homes for eight weeks, and Romania, where the spring lockdown lasted almost seven weeks.
Countries with ‘long and hard’ lockdowns may be more at risk of a drop in births, the study concluded.
People’s fear of the future, likely increased by the restrictions, could be to blame. Stress also makes it notoriously more difficult to conceive, while social distancing rules have likely led to fewer unintended pregnancies in people who don’t live together. And IVF was temporarily put on hold.
Professor Leo Pomar, lead author of the study from the School of Health Sciences in Lausanne, Switzerland, said: ‘People who are told not to leave their homes may be more anxious about the future if they have a baby than people in countries like Swedes who are not told to lock up.
In England and Wales, the birth rate fell 13 percent in January last year, about nine months after the first lockdown began (file photo)
Couples may have worried about not being able to see a baby’s grandparents, about their finances after their leave, or about their child’s quality of life if the pandemic continues. Or it could just be that after weeks in each other’s company, tied up at home, they were so annoyed with each other that they didn’t want to have intercourse.’
The study, published in Human Reproduction, looked at birth rates between January 2018 and March 2021. The decline in birth rates occurred in most European countries — 13 out of 24 analyzed — in January 2021, nine or ten months later. the first closure.
The decrease was compared to the same month in 2018 and 2019.
They found that birth rates showed an uptick, with more babies than usual being born in March 2021, about nine months after lockdowns eased and life returned to normal. But this increase was not seen in the UK.