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Fertility delay among married Singaporean women during Zika and COVID: roles of infection risk and uncertainty

Poh Lin Tan, National University of Singapore
Joan M Ryan, Institut national d'études démographiques
Jeremy W Lim-Soh, National University of Singapore

When faced with uncertainty, individuals adjust their fertility levels to adapt to physical and social environments. We use a longitudinal survey spanning three waves from 2018 shortly after the Zika epidemic of 2016-2017 to 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic to examine stated fertility responses to these two separate disease outbreaks among married women aged 25-34. In the case of COVID-19, there was additional disruption to daily life when a nation-wide lockdown was implemented from April-June 2020, with residual restrictions even after it was lifted. Our analysis suggests three main sets of results: first, those who stated that they delayed childbearing due to Zika were also more likely to state that they delayed or accelerated childbearing in response to COVID-19. Second, the proportion of respondents who state that they brought forward childbearing during COVID-19 increased after the lockdown ended. Third, anxiety about the virus significantly predicted whether a woman delays childbearing in response to Zika, but not for COVID19; conversely, stress and income loss were more important predictors of whether a woman stated that she reduced childbearing intentions during COVID-19. In addition, sociodemographic characteristics including achieving fertility ideals, marriage duration, educational and income levels were predictive of changes in childbearing in response to COVID-19.

Keywords: Fertility and childbirth, COVID-19, Family planning and contraception, Health and morbidity

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 171. COVID-19 and Fertility