The Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Fertility and Birth Outcomes: Evidence from Spanish Birth Registers
Demographic change almost never happens fast, except during wars, natural disasters, and pandemics. We ask what the joint consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for fertility and birth outcomes are by drawing on full population administrative data from Spain. We find a surprising improvement in birth outcomes in November and to a less extent in December 2020 (8–9 months after the first wave of the pandemic) compared with monthly trends in the ten previous years (2010-2019). The improvement in birth outcomes was shortly followed by a decline in the total fertility rate (TFR), especially among women at the beginning and the end of their reproductive age. These findings are consistent with the idea that the pandemic selectively affected conception, which showed up first as a birth-outcomes improvement due to the missing conception of frail-children-to-be (including pre-term children) and then as a lowered fertility rate due to the missing conception of at-term children.