The Covid-19 Baby Bust, by the Numbers
Photo illustration, source: Cristian Newman/Unsplash
300,000 to 500,000: That’s how many fewer babies the think tank Brookings Institution projects will be born in the United States next year. Birth rates in the United States were already steadily declining before the pandemic, but the latest projection is a steep drop from the 3.7 million babies born in 2019, which was 1% lower than in 2018.
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The authors of the Brookings Institution report write that stories about birth spikes nine months after blizzards or major blackouts, when couples are cooped up together, tend not to hold up to statistical examination. And in this case, the increased uncertainty caused by the pandemic and its economic fallout is leading prospective parents to put off having kids until conditions are more stable. But the authors expect “that many of these births will not just be delayed — but will never happen.”
It’s not just the United States, either. China’s birth rates are at their lowest levels on record and are expected to drop by 8% this year.
That’s bad news for businesses that cater to infants and new mothers, many of which had already been diversifying their products to hedge against declining birth rates. The Wall Street Journal reports that infant formula maker Reckitt is expanding into adult nutrition, while owners of diaper brands Pampers and Huggies recently launched higher-priced products to make up for a decline in sales volume.
Corporate America could try bumping up parental leave policies if they want to keep having customers.