How Will COVID Affect Completed Fertility?


The brief’s key findings are:

  • Birth rates have been falling since the Great Recession, and many thought COVID might accelerate this decline.
  • Indeed, birth rates did drop substantially early in the pandemic, but by the end of 2021, the COVID effect was actually positive.
  • This uptick may well be temporary, though, as early data show that the ideal number of kids has:
    • dropped sharply for women in their 20s; and
    • held steady for women in their early 30s.
  • And evidence from the Great Recession suggests that the expectations of these women will not rise as they age.
  • If the drop in expectations holds in more comprehensive surveys, birth rates are likely to keep falling, and at a faster pace than before COVID.

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