Fertility Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Developed Countries – On Pre-pandemic Fertility Forecasts
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all areas of our lives. Among other outcomes, the academic literature and popular media both discuss the potential effects of the pandemic on fertility. As fertility is an important determinant of population development and population forecasts are important for policy decisions and planning, we need to address to which extent fertility forecasts performed before the pandemic still apply.
Using Monte Carlo forecasting based on principal components of fertility rates, we quantify the effects of the pandemic on fertility for 22 countries and discuss whether forecasts made prior to the pandemic need adjustment based on more recent data.
Among the studied countries, 14 countries show no significant effect of the pandemic at all, while six countries have significantly lowered numbers of births in comparison to counterfactual trajectories that assume that past trends will hold. These countries are primarily in the Mediterranean and East Asia. For Finland and South Korea, there is statistical evidence for increased fertility in the early phases of the pandemic. In all cases with statistically significant fertility differentials caused by the pandemic, reproductive behavior normalized quickly. Therefore, we find no evidence for long-term effects of the pandemic on fertility, leading to the conclusion that pre-pandemic fertility forecasts still apply.
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