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The pandemic and economics of pregnancies

In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, people generally believed that the lock-downs meant that they were home and comfortable with their partners. However, the truth is much soberer than all predictions. The truth is pandemic has brought anything but the boom in the number of babies. Research reveals that the United States is seeing the biggest birth loss in one century, that France has reported the lowest birth rate since World War II and that China has earned 15% fewer baby records. The population increase is forecast to be almost zero by 2100, with 23 nations (such as Spain and Japan) expecting to halve their populations.
Countries experiencing a downturn
China was among the worst hits with 15 per cent fewer baby registrations received by authorities. The reasons for low birth rates have been expressed by demographers and social observers, which include the high cost of accommodation and schooling, and the increasing refusal of married young women.
In 2020, only 8.1 million were registered as married couples, 12 per cent less than the year before, according to the Chinese Ministry of Civils. According to figures. Last year’s marriage record was also the lowest since 2003, representing only 60 per cent of registrations in 2013 when the rates were at their peak. The list of countries that have the lowest fertility rates in the world includes Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. While Singapore’s fertility rate is barely 1%, it fell below that of South Korea and Taiwan.
Even, in Italy, one of the world’s first hotspots in Covid, birth rates have dropped. In December, births in 15 cities fell 22 per cent, precisely 9 months after the pandemic. Similar phenomena are also occurring: Japan had the least number of newborns reported in 2020, while French births have fallen to the lowest level since the Second World War.
The condition has been troubling in the United States of America, where the birth rate has declined since 2019. In 2019, the US witnessed its lowest figure since 1985- 3.75 million babies. An analysis conducted by the Brookings Institution found that in 2021, up to 500,000 fewer babies will be born — up from 13% in 2019. A study from the Guttmacher Institute found that, as a result of the pandemic, 34% wished to delay pregnancies or have fewer infants.

Covid-19 and the birth rate decline
Economic considerations play a significant role in a person’s decision on whether or not to have a child. With the pandemic wreaking havoc on economies all over the world, fear reigns supreme. It is a well-established hypothesis that when a country’s labour market is depressed, net birth rates fall, and when the labour market increases, birth rates rise. There is also a well-documented correlation between increases in income and births at the personal level: as income grows, individuals tend to increase their family, while when they lose their work or income, they tend to have fewer children. The Great Recession in the United States is a great example of this. The birth rate had decreased in the states with higher unemployment rates. According to economist James Pomeroy of HSBC Holdings Plc, the longer and more serious the contraction, the steeper the drop recorded in birth rates, and the more likely it is that a drop in birth rates would become a structural improvement in family planning.
People in Germany, France, and the United Kingdom who lived in Covid-19-affected areas were more likely to delay having children, according to a survey of European adults’ fertility plans. At the same time, a host of wealthy northern European countries that have done well in the face of the pandemic, such as the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, have recorded little to no reduction in births in December and January. Health issues have also led couples to delay or avoid infants. The demographic history of the Spanish flu 1918-19 clearly shows a fall in birth rates typically followed by a pandemic. This is accompanied by the pandemic’s emotional problems.
Millions of parents are struggling with the burden of balancing work duties and supervising their children, who are often staying at home as schools and other educational facilities are closed due to the transition to the work-from-home paradigm. Parents, or potential parents, have abandoned their plans to have a kid because the situation hasn’t improved significantly in the last year. Furthermore, social activity limits suggest that certain partnerships that would have begun in 2020 never took hold. Joshua Wilde and his colleagues at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research analyzed Google searches for fertility-related words like pregnancy testing. The analysts expect a 15% drop in new births as a result of the decrease in searches for those words, according to the report. According to the United Nations sexual and reproductive health organization, the pandemic has resulted in the loss of family planning programs for almost 12 million women in 115 countries.
Effects of the lower birth rate
A decrease in births causes a societal shift with long-term economic implications. The reduction in new births would inevitably lead to a reduced population, which portends lower economic growth and fewer jobs to add to the tax base, as governments have run up massive borrowings to finance economic assistance. That also ensures a lower worker-to-retiree ratio. Such a blow would be particularly debilitating in Asia and Europe, where populations are ageing. According to economists, fewer adults would join the workforce by 10% to 15%. A decrease in the birth rate would inevitably harm a country’s potential productivity because spending on hospitals and public pensions will continue to increase, but tax collections will not.
Possible solutions
Many nations have implemented programs such as allowances or infant tax credits to raise their birth rates. President Joe Biden recently recommended that parents be given $3,600 (approximately Rs 2.6 lakh) for each child below the age of six and $3,000 (around Rs 2.2 lakh) for a one-year period per child from six to seventeen. The Singapore government has also encouraged cash incentives to allow citizens, amid the coronavirus, to have children.

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