Well, so much for a baby boomlet of “coronials,” as one Informed American reader quipped.
Instead, a group of researchers now forecast that we’ll have a dearth of births, which will affect societies and economies for decades to come. Already dealing with birthrates lower than 2.1 per woman of child-bearing age, the level necessary to keep a population from declining, developed nations around the world (and China) have been struggling to encourage growing families. At first, people thought the pandemic might help because it would mean couples have more time together.
But the new research shines a light on a different issue. People can’t meet face-to-face during the pandemic, so new relationships aren’t forming, which slows dating, marriage, and having children. Eventually, this reduces the workforce population which means fewer workers and taxpayers to support retirees and the government, a situation Japan is living through today.
In addition to weighing on population growth, the researchers estimate that women are bearing more of the household responsibilities during the pandemic, doing more housework while also helping children learning at home keep up with their online classes and homework. This is a retrenchment to more conservative social values when women were expected to keep the household in check as their husbands worked outside the home.
In addition to these issues, the scientists theorized that women might heighten their sexuality during and after the pandemic as they compete with other women for available mates. This last one seems a bit farfetched because they did not explain what would make men less available than they were before.
Let’s hope the researchers are wrong, we’ve already got enough to deal with from the pandemic.