A new going study suggests that remote work may have contributed to a mini “Baby Boom” in 2021 and 2022.
- Economists for the National Bureau of Economic Research released a 38-page working paper last week suggesting that COVID-19 and remote work have changed childbearing habits.
- A study of births between 2015 and 2022 suggests that a “baby bump” began in 2021, reversing ongoing negative demographic trends and lowering birth rates.
- Birth habits have remained elevated through the third quarter of 2022, reversing the previous trend of fertility rates dropping from 2.1 to 1.6 between 2007 and 2020.
- It remains unclear if this trend will continue, but the study suggests it remote work could signal a trend toward improved birth rates going forward.
Why It’s Important
Demographic decline is one of the more serious issues facing first-world countries this decade, with the U.S., China, and many European countries staring down declining birth rates. The long-term effects of the trend of disastrous, with economic decline and instability for government programs being among its severe outcomes as a smaller generation of young people is tasked with paying for healthcare and pensions for a larger older generation.
Defying expectations from previous downturns, which lowered fertility rates, new factors have incentivized families to begin to start working on kids sooner—and remote work is likely one of the key reasons why.
Greater flexibility for work and childcare has allowed women more opportunities for spending time with family and less commuting to the office. With 40% of educated workers working remotely in Spring 2021, this has meant that younger women who might have been hit hard by the recession felt more confident than usual to start families.
“This 2021 ‘baby bump’ is the first major reversal in the U.S. fertility rates since the 2007 Great Recession and was large enough to reverse two years of declining fertility rates. The baby bump was most pronounced among first births and among women under 25, suggesting that the pandemic led many women to start their families sooner. The baby bump was also pronounced among women 30-34 and among those ages 25-44 with a college degree or more. The latter group were more likely to retain their jobs during the pandemic and to be able to work from home. Combining the modest 2020 fertility decline and the 2021 baby bump, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a net increase in births among U.S.-born mothers of around 46,000 children,” says the study.