We know the effects of Corona on mortality and GDP. As data trickles in, we are now getting an increasingly clear idea of its effects on fertility rates.
(via Twitter demographer @BirthGauge)
We generally see no large-scale effects from Corona. There were usually fertility shocks as the lockdowns first went into effect, but they were quickly smoothed over subsequent months.
That said, there are important regional differences, with Northern Europe actually seeing a substantial increase in fertility. The effects were most striking in Germany:
Covid baby boom in Germany: Births in March 2021 were 65,903, the highest number recorded in a March since 1998.
In Q1 2021, births so far are up 5.2% compared to Q1 2020.
— Birth Gauge (@BirthGauge) June 15, 2021
If this holds until the end of the year, total TFR for 2021 could be 1.61, the highest value since 1973. (And no, the increase was not driven by refugees). This year may in fact see German total number of births exceed Japan’s. And Iran’s.
Births in Iran in Jan-Apr 2021 around 8.4% down to the same period in 2020. If this holds until the end of the year, Iran's TFR will be 1.54 this year, down from 1.66 in 2020.
— Birth Gauge (@BirthGauge) June 7, 2021
There are two possible causes here. The proximate one is that generous social welfare policies and moderate lockdowns blunted the impact of the fertility fall in Northern Europe and soon it was outright reversed. However, another possible, longer-term cause that I would propose, and which is suggested by the fact that Germany is the only developed country (with the exception of the few city-states like Qatar) which had a higher TFR in 2020 than in 2021*, is that Germany’s now close to 50 years of low fertility have “pruned away” many of its genotypic anti-natalists while increasing the “breeder” proportion of the population:
If this is accurate, we may expect German TFR to continue climbing up. While French selection for breeders lasted much longer, the German one was more intense, given the extent of its fertility collapse from the 1970s (while France always remained reasonably close to replacement level rates).
In other news, Czechia this year might have the highest TFR in the developed world after Israel:
Births in Czechia in Q1 2021 were 27,200, that is 3.8% higher than in Q1 2020. If that Covid baby boomlet continues through the rest of the year, Czechia's TFR will be 1.80, the second highest among all developed countries after Israel.
— Birth Gauge (@BirthGauge) June 14, 2021
Czechia is a socially liberal country with the highest percentage of porn stars in Europe. This happens to have no bearing on fertility rates, to the consternation of right-wingers. It’s almost as if this doesn’t matter.
4.7% births fall in Japan this year so far.
Then again, Japan is steadily becoming the fertility “powerhouse” of East Asia – bearing in mind the steep declines observed in South Korea, Taiwan, China, and even Thailand, which is now down to a mere 1.15. (Reminder that everything in life is relative).
As the first East Asian country to undergo the demographic transition, it will also probably be the first one to emerge from it.
I have raised this issue in passing before. But demographic statistics from Central Asia, especially Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – which have seemingly defied trends towards fertility decrease in almost all the rest of the world – should at this point be treated with extreme skepticism (just like data from Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Chechnya in Russia).
A couple of resources on this topic.
- Kazakhstan: Казахстан: миллион «мертвых душ»? + stranger233 commentary
- Kyrgyzstan: Чудеса киргизской статистики
I might write up some of this in English sometime. But the gist of it is that births data are not tallying with population data and some cities are generating crazy and implausibly high TFR figures (e.g. Osh supposed had a TFR of 5.1 by 2019).
The Uzbek figures might ironically be more accurate, but the country is probably on the cusp of an Azeri-like sharp decline, as explained here.
The main socio-political consequence of this is that Russian nationalist trepidations about an unending reservoir of labor pouring in from Central Asia is increasingly divorced from reality. In actuality, large parts of Northern Kazakhstan seem set to remain majority ethnic Russian in perpetuity.
* h/t Annatar for this observation.