Fertility in women to decline after coronavirus pandemic, new study says

Fertility is already at a very strong downward trend in recent years. Though there is no scientific explanation, everyone agrees that better access to healthcare, women’s education, easy available contraception, and other lower child mortality are all contributing factors for this downward trend.

A new study titled “The COVID-19 pandemic and human fertility” published by Bocconi University’s Arnstein Aassve, Nicolò Cavalli, Letizia Mencarini, and Samuel Plach, and Massimo Livi Bacci from the University of Florence in the journal Science details how this may happen and why.

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Historically, there has been evidence of temporary drops in fertility in the wake of pandemics and epidemics. After the Spanish Flu, there was a temporary drop in fertility until the trend quickly reversed to very high fertility, creating a spike in the population. The study explains how we might see this historic trend repeat with the COVID-19 pandemic, but not continue with the spike in fertility afterward.

Although it is difficult to make precise predictions, a likely scenario is that fertility will fall, at least in high-income countries and in the short run.

Arnstein Aassve, professor at the Department of Social and Political Sciences at Bocconi

The study says that high-income households will see a decline in fertility due to lockdowns, school closures, and economic outlooks. This will postpone childbearing plans. Medium- and low-income households will see a decline in fertility due to economic/financial setbacks and the decline in female occupation due to the pandemic. The study was a part of the Dondena Center’s research activities within Bocconi’s COVID Crisis Lab.

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