Scenario-based fertility projections incorporating impacts of COVID-19

Ann M. Berrington, University of Southampton
Joanne Ellison, University of Southampton
Bernice Kuang, University of Southampton
Sindhu Vasireddy, University of St Andrews
Hill Kulu, University of St Andrews

Projecting future fertility rates is important for planning. This paper quantifies how the pandemic could affect fertility trends in a high income setting. We examine fertility trends in the UK’s constituent countries, to understand what was already happening prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We discuss the possible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on childbearing behaviour and outline a number of possible future scenarios for fertility rates. We use these scenarios to project the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) and the annual number of births for the period of 2021-23. We find that in all countries of the UK fertility rates have been declining at all ages. Provisional estimates of the TFR for England and Wales for 2020 suggest that fertility rates had fallen to historically unprecedented low levels before any impact due to the pandemic occurred. Having considered potential forces acting on individuals at different ages and using data on fertility rates in Europe following the 2008 recession, we expect that the COVID-19 pandemic will depress fertility, particularly among younger people. Our projections show that for three scenarios out of four fertility is expected to decline leading to significantly fewer births annually compared to the pre-pandemic period.

Keywords: COVID-19, Population projections, forecasts, and estimations, Fertility and childbirth

See paper.

  Presented in Session 179. Fertility Transition and Prospects