An INSEE report has just highlighted a significant drop in births in December 2020 and January 2021. Another collateral damage from the pandemic? Probably, although these results are part of a recent downtrend.
We had to wait until the end of 2020 to observe the possible impacts of the health crisis on births, it is now done. According to INSEE data, reported in a press release, on February 25, the number of births recorded in France in December 2020 fell by 7% compared to December 2019. This decrease was accentuated in January 2021, since 13% fewer births were recorded compared to the same period a year ago. This decrease, unprecedented since 1975, “could be linked” to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Insee.a
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The 53,900 babies born in January 2021 were, for the most part, conceived at the start of the first confinement introduced in mid-March 2020 and several factors may be at the origin of such a decline in births. “The context of health crisis and great uncertainty may have discouraged couples from procreating” or “Encourage them to postpone their parenthood plans for several months”, says the Institute for Statistical Studies. “Considerations relating to the possible transmission of the virus from mother to newborn may also have played a role”, just like the closure of medically assisted reproduction centers during the first confinement.
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In the total year 2020: 735,000 babies were born, the lowest annual number of births since the end of World War II.
A lasting drop in birth rates?
The figures prove it, the French reproduce less, from year to year, and this, for six years now, according to INSEE. Holding the pandemic solely responsible for the fall in the birth rate in France is therefore not entirely possible, some drops having been observed unrelated to the pandemic (-4% in August and November 2020 compared to the same months in 2019). Despite this, INSEE takes a position: "The decrease in births observed in January 2021 is however out of all proportion to the decreases that may have been observed in the past". The Covid-19 crisis therefore had a real impact on the decline in births.
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These data remain provisional, as not all birth certificates have yet been transmitted. Should we expect to see an even more dramatic decrease? A more precise estimate will be available at the end of March.