Photo by Picsea via Unsplash
Following a decade of declining births in the United States, the total births in 2020 are the lowest since 1979.
On June 30, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the final numbers on the birth data from 2020. To the dismay of those hoping to see a baby boom, birth rates were down by 6% compared to 2019 during the same month.
Compared to the birth rates 10 years prior, there are around 44,000 “missing births” that would have been conceived during the pandemic. Some wonder if the unusually low birth rate is just another symptom of the pandemic and if the birth rate will bounce back. But decreasing trends, scholarly opinion and the general youth disagree; the declining U.S. birth rate has been a trend for much longer than the start of the pandemic.
In an emailed press statement, Planned Parenthood told Scriberr News some of the reasons behind their patients’ choice to hold off on having children during the pandemic.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic has upended realities and shifted priorities for people, more of our patients are changing their plans about when and if to get pregnant, and how many children to have,” said Dr. Gillian Dean, senior director of medical services.
“Their reasons are varied as they grapple with sudden unemployment and loss of insurance or heightened responsibilities as essential workers or caregivers — and these events are most acutely affecting communities who face existing barriers to health care due to systemic health and social inequalities.”
Beth Olson, an associate professor at the University of Houston with a doctorate in telecommunications, teaches media in society and media in gender. When asked about the reasons behind the declining birth rates in the U.S., her answer echoed Planned Parenthood’s reasoning.
“Given all the uncertainty and anxiety about health and economic realities, I’m not surprised [the birth rate] dropped,” Olson told Scriberr News. “Medical researchers weren’t sure initially if the vaccines were even safe for pregnant women. And a mother-to-be faced the possibility of delivering the baby alone with no father-to-be or family allowed in the delivery room.”
Olson continued to explain that this generation is not in the same financial place as their parents were at their age. This, coupled with more women waiting to have children until after graduating college and starting careers, there may be other factors behind the declining birth rates.
Based on the more recent trend of starting families later in life, there is speculation that a rise in births may occur once the current adults reach their mid-thirties. However, many young adults have expressed disinterest.
“Life is expensive. I realized this after moving out,” Veronica Campos, a young adult starting her career in Florida, told Scriberr News.
“I wouldn’t want a kid simply because that child will spend most of its time with a babysitter instead of me ‘cause I’ll be working a lot more to cover my expenses and that child. It doesn’t make sense to have one if someone will be raising it and getting paid for it.”
Another young adult, Ian Everretis, is not opposed to having children, but he isn’t jumping at the idea.
“I think that with the uncertain future of society’s ability to handle global disaster and climate change, I’d feel pretty guilty bringing a kid into this world to face that,” he told Scriberr News. “If it ever became more certain that we were handling climate change responsibly, and that we developed robust protections for all kinds of classes of people, I’d want to have children.”
A recent graduate of the University of Texas, Priyata Chowdery, lists reasons why she will be foregoing children.
“Economy. Climate change. Not knowing if bringing a kid into this world is a gift or a poison. Just tired of women’s value being tied to motherhood. Career and not wanting kids to come in the way of that. It’s hard to travel and move jobs when you have a kid. I could go on forever.”