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新冠疫情真的会带来婴儿潮吗?

新冠疫情真的会带来婴儿潮吗?

Marie Solis 2021年03月09日
随着疫情持续的时间越来越长,我们或将看到更严重的出生率下降情况,永久性放弃生育计划的人也将越来越多。

布鲁金斯学会(Brookings Institution)的研究人员近日表示,一些人曾经预计称,受新冠疫情影响,情侣居家隔离会带来一波“婴儿潮”。而现实表明,这一预测并未实现。

事实甚至与之相反。马里兰大学(University of Maryland)和韦尔斯利学院(Wellesley College)的经济学教授梅丽莎·卡尼和菲利普·莱文分别表示,他们预计2021年的新生儿数量将减少30万人——他们称之为新冠“婴儿退潮”。

全国失业率每上升1%,出生率就会下降1%——他们的发现部分基于这一证据。为了解释“公共卫生危机在经济危机之上”这一事实,卡尼和莱文调查了1918年西班牙流感对出生率的影响,发现流感死亡人数的激增导致了9个月后出生人数的减少。

影响可以从宏观和微观的角度分别分析。“关于一国的出生率变化,事实已经很清楚:当劳动力市场疲软时,总出生率将下降;当劳动力市场提振时,出生率也会跟着上升。”他们在《纽约时报》(New York Times)评论版写道,“在个人层面,个人收入和出生率的联系也相当清晰:收入增加,人们愿意扩大家庭成员;而收入减少或遭遇裁员时,他们的生育意愿会降低。”

在疫情爆发几个月后的2020年6月,卡尼和莱文就曾经作出分析。在布鲁金斯学会的报告中他们写道:“风暴和封锁”之后的“婴儿潮神话”,仅仅是一个神话而已。当月,古特马赫研究所(Guttmacher Institute)发布的报告也佐证了这一观点。该报告详细说明了在疫情期间,妇女对计划生育的看法发生了巨大变化。

报告发现,超过40%的受访女性表示将会调整生育计划,比如何时生、要几个小孩等。此外,超过三分之一的女性表示疫情使其推迟或减少生育。仅有17%的女性表示疫情使其愿意更早生育或要更多的孩子。

常识告诉我们,情况的确如此。近几个月来,女性的失业率达到了最高水平,尤其是母亲们——由于学校停课和育儿工作的小差错,她们实际上已经被挤出了劳动力大军。

疫情对出生率的影响,只是美国生育系统痼疾中的一个痛点。多年来,美国的新生儿出生率一直在下降,社会、文化、经济等诸多因素汇集,共同导致了人们生育意愿的滑坡。在这些因素中,政府支持的缺位占了大头:在工业化国家中,美国仍然是唯一一个没有实行普适性的带薪家庭假政策的国家。而在有助于提高生育意愿的儿童保育和学前教育政策方面,美国政府也未能提出好政策。

卡尼和莱文表示,出生率可能会反弹到疫情前的数字,因为一些人只是推迟生育计划,而不是决定不生。但是随着疫情持续时间越来越长,产生的社会和经济影响也越来越深远,这一可能性将会越来越小,甚至产生严重的长期后果,例如造成未来劳动力市场的萎缩。

报告称:“现在我们坚持之前的预测,即新冠疫情将导致婴儿出生减少约30万。但疫情持续的时间越长,经济和社会焦虑越深,我们或将看到更严重的出生率下降情况,永久性放弃生育计划的人也将越来越多。”(财富中文网)

编译:杨二一

布鲁金斯学会(Brookings Institution)的研究人员近日表示,一些人曾经预计称,受新冠疫情影响,情侣居家隔离会带来一波“婴儿潮”。而现实表明,这一预测并未实现。

事实甚至与之相反。马里兰大学(University of Maryland)和韦尔斯利学院(Wellesley College)的经济学教授梅丽莎·卡尼和菲利普·莱文分别表示,他们预计2021年的新生儿数量将减少30万人——他们称之为新冠“婴儿退潮”。

全国失业率每上升1%,出生率就会下降1%——他们的发现部分基于这一证据。为了解释“公共卫生危机在经济危机之上”这一事实,卡尼和莱文调查了1918年西班牙流感对出生率的影响,发现流感死亡人数的激增导致了9个月后出生人数的减少。

影响可以从宏观和微观的角度分别分析。“关于一国的出生率变化,事实已经很清楚:当劳动力市场疲软时,总出生率将下降;当劳动力市场提振时,出生率也会跟着上升。”他们在《纽约时报》(New York Times)评论版写道,“在个人层面,个人收入和出生率的联系也相当清晰:收入增加,人们愿意扩大家庭成员;而收入减少或遭遇裁员时,他们的生育意愿会降低。”

在疫情爆发几个月后的2020年6月,卡尼和莱文就曾经作出分析。在布鲁金斯学会的报告中他们写道:“风暴和封锁”之后的“婴儿潮神话”,仅仅是一个神话而已。当月,古特马赫研究所(Guttmacher Institute)发布的报告也佐证了这一观点。该报告详细说明了在疫情期间,妇女对计划生育的看法发生了巨大变化。

报告发现,超过40%的受访女性表示将会调整生育计划,比如何时生、要几个小孩等。此外,超过三分之一的女性表示疫情使其推迟或减少生育。仅有17%的女性表示疫情使其愿意更早生育或要更多的孩子。

常识告诉我们,情况的确如此。近几个月来,女性的失业率达到了最高水平,尤其是母亲们——由于学校停课和育儿工作的小差错,她们实际上已经被挤出了劳动力大军。

疫情对出生率的影响,只是美国生育系统痼疾中的一个痛点。多年来,美国的新生儿出生率一直在下降,社会、文化、经济等诸多因素汇集,共同导致了人们生育意愿的滑坡。在这些因素中,政府支持的缺位占了大头:在工业化国家中,美国仍然是唯一一个没有实行普适性的带薪家庭假政策的国家。而在有助于提高生育意愿的儿童保育和学前教育政策方面,美国政府也未能提出好政策。

卡尼和莱文表示,出生率可能会反弹到疫情前的数字,因为一些人只是推迟生育计划,而不是决定不生。但是随着疫情持续时间越来越长,产生的社会和经济影响也越来越深远,这一可能性将会越来越小,甚至产生严重的长期后果,例如造成未来劳动力市场的萎缩。

报告称:“现在我们坚持之前的预测,即新冠疫情将导致婴儿出生减少约30万。但疫情持续的时间越长,经济和社会焦虑越深,我们或将看到更严重的出生率下降情况,永久性放弃生育计划的人也将越来越多。”(财富中文网)

编译:杨二一

The baby boom some expected to occur after months of romantic partners quarantining at home together has failed to materialize, according to researchers at the Brookings Institution.

Rather, it’s quite the opposite: Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine, economics professors at the University of Maryland and Wellesley College, respectively, say they expect 300,000 fewer births in 2021, in what they’re calling a COVID “baby bust.”

Their finding is based in part on evidence that shows a 1% increase in the national unemployment rate corresponds with an equivalent 1% drop in birth rates. In order to account for the fact that there is a public health crisis layered on top of an economic one, Kearney and Levine examined the impact of the 1918 Spanish flu on births, finding that spikes in flu deaths resulted in a decrease in the number of births nine months later.

These effects can be observed on both the macro and micro level: “There is a well-documented cycle to the nation’s birthrate: When the labor market is weak, aggregate birth rates decline; when the labor market improves, birth rates improve,” Kearney and Levine wrote in a New York Times op-ed on their research. “At the individual level, there is also a well-documented link between changes in income and births: When income increases, people often expand their families; when people experience job or income loss, they have fewer children.”

Kearney and Levine made a similar estimate in June, just a few months into the pandemic, writing in a Brookings report that myths about baby booms following snowstorms and blackouts were largely that—myths. This early prediction was also buoyed by findings from the Guttmacher Institute the same month, which detailed dramatic shifts in the way women were thinking about family planning during the pandemic.

The study found that more than 40% of women said they were altering their plans for when to have children or how many children they would have, and more than one-third of women said the pandemic had made them decide to delay pregnancy or have fewer children. Just 17% of respondents reported wanting to have children sooner or to have more of them because of the pandemic.

A certain amount of common sense dictates that this must be the case. Women have suffered some of the highest rates of unemployment in recent months, and mothers especially have been effectively pushed out of the workforce because of school closures and lapses in childcare.

This is only an acute symptom of a much larger problem. Birth rates have been falling in the United States for years now, the result of a confluence of social, cultural, and economic factors that have made childbearing less desirable for many people. The most obvious among these factors is the lack of government support for parents: The U.S. continues to be the only industrialized country that doesn’t have a universal paid family leave policy in place. It also lacks both universal childcare and preschool policies, which can make it more feasible for people to have children.

Kearney and Levine say it’s possible birth rates will begin to rebound to pre-pandemic numbers, since some people are delaying pregnancy, not abandoning the desire to have children altogether. But the longer the pandemic—and the social and economic conditions created by it—go on, the less that may be true, which could lead to long-term consequences, like a shrinking workforce.

“As of now, we stand by our prediction of a COVID baby bust of around 300,000 fewer births,” they report. “But the longer the pandemic lasts, and the deeper the economic and social anxiety runs, it is feasible that we will see an even larger reduction in births with an increasing share of them averted permanently.”

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