New data suggests that pandemic resulted in temporary decline in number of babies born in United Kingdom

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Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK’s fertility rate had already fallen to historically low levels. The latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics suggest a short-term decline in birth numbers in England, Wales and Scotland, but little change in Northern Ireland after the initial closure of COVID-19. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, birth numbers have returned to pre-COVID levels since March 2021.

The overall impact of COVID-19 on UK fertility may be small in the long run as it counteracts the impact between different population subgroups, with many postponed births in the coming months and numbers. It may catch up in the year.

Using historical evidence from previous baby booms and busts, research teams at the University of Southampton and the University of St Andrews have created four possible scenarios for the impact of a pandemic on fertility. Three of the four predicted scenarios suggest a decline in fertility over the next three years, while one suggests an increase.

A research team led by Professor Ann Berrington of the University of Southampton investigated the birth trends in the United Kingdom as part of the ESRC Fertility Trends project and the ESRC Population Change Center. They found that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on childbirth depends on the age of the woman and whether she already has children, complicating predictions of future childbirth.For example, lack of national socialization Blockade Also, the increased uncertainty caused by the economic collapse of a pandemic can reduce the likelihood that young people will have children. However, older, well-established couples are more likely to have children if they spend more time together. Parents faced certain challenges during the pandemic, especially when they had to raise their children during the closure of schools and nurseries. This can influence the decision to have more children.

Historical evidence of post-recession fertility rates from other Scandinavian and Western countries is most likely to delay or stop childbirth, depending on social and economic conditions. It suggests that.shock“And modern events. Young women have more time to respond to uncertainty and delay childbirth.

Evidence from the “fear of pills” in the late 1970s is that there may be more children during these periods, as there were short-term changes in fertility following changes in oral contraceptive use during this period. It is suggested that the highest is the elderly. “Shock” event. Among women who are a little older or who already have children, a pandemic may increase the likelihood of having a child, for example, through a change in work-life balance caused by COVID-19.

Professor Bellington commented on the findings as follows: “Predicting future birth numbers is important for planning. Predictions are used for financial commitments through birth services, schools, welfare systems, etc. Being pandemic, the impact of COVID-19 on future birth rates Is difficult to predict. “

She continues. “To address this, we designed four possible historical evidence-based scenarios to help us understand how individual decisions about childbirth affect overall fertility. Three of the four scenarios show a decline in fertility. In the long run, total fertility may not change much. Behavior may change depending on the pandemic, but it is uncertain. Helps to understand people’s choices about giving birth at the right time. birthrate It can be temporary, and people choose to delay having children rather than having no children at all. In the coming months, the impact of the second UK blockade (December 2020-March 2021) on births may be seen. This will give us a more accurate picture of the direction we are heading. ”


COVID-19 can cause historically low levels of childbirth in the UK


For more information:
Ann Berrington et al, scenario-based fertility prediction incorporating the effects of COVID-19, Population, space, place (2021). DOI: 10.1002 / psp.2546

Quote: New data suggest that the pandemic has temporarily reduced the number of babies born in the UK (January 18, 2022). -babies.html

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