The Covid Baby Bust Is Here

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The Covid Baby Bust Is Here

ROME—Angela Di Iorio wanted to be pregnant with her first baby by now. Instead, the 36-year-old Italian, who just postponed her wedding for a second time, is starting to wonder whether she should have a child at all.

“Our plan was always to get married and then to start a family,” said Ms. Di Iorio, an osteopath from Rome whose fiance has been out of work for nearly a year, ever since a gym they co-own was forced to close because of measures to stop the spread of covid-19. “We no longer have the kind of stability my partner and I worked so hard to achieve. And I’m getting older,” she said.

A year into the pandemic, early data and surveys point to a baby bust in many advanced economies from the U.S. to Europe to East Asia, often on top of existing downward trends in births.

A combination of health and economic crises is prompting many people to delay or abandon plans to have children. Demographers warn the dip is unlikely to be temporary, especially if the pandemic and its economic consequences drag on.

“All evidence points to a sharp decline in fertility rates and in the number of births across highly developed countries,” said Tomas Sobotka, a researcher at the Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global Human Capital in Vienna. “The longer this period of uncertainty lasts, the more it will have lifelong effects on the fertility rate.”

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