A recent study found that climate change may impact whether people decide to have kids in the future. Now, researchers from NYU Grossman School of Medicine explored what impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on consumers considering expanding their families.
According to their findings, about half of the mothers in New York City who were trying to have more kids before the pandemic put their plans on hold at the beginning of stay-at-home orders.
“Our findings show that that initial COVID-19 outbreak appears to have made women think twice about expanding their families and, in some cases, reduce the number of children they ultimately intend to have,” said researcher Linda Kahn, Ph.D. “This is yet another example of the potential long-lasting consequences of the pandemic beyond the more obvious health and economic effects.”
How the pandemic impacted family planning
For the study, the researchers surveyed over 1,100 mothers in New York City. All of the women had at least one child at the start of the study, and they were surveyed in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic about their plans for subsequent children.
Ultimately, the researchers learned that the pandemic changed the way many women were thinking about their families and their plans for more children.
Just about half of the women in the study reported actively trying to conceive before the start of the pandemic. However, as infection rates rapidly increased, these plans were paused. It’s also important to note that less than half of the women in this group thought they’d reconsider and start trying to get pregnant again when the pandemic began to get under control.
Additionally, nearly 40% of women changed their minds entirely about expanding their families once the pandemic started. These decisions may have long-term impacts on fertility rates and population growth.
The researchers also learned that financial status played a big role in many women’s decision to get pregnant. The pandemic significantly impacted consumers’ employment status and finances, both of which are important factors to consider when thinking of adding another child into the family.
Though the team plans to do more work in this area to better understand how the vaccine may or may not play a role in women’s decision to have more kids, these findings highlight yet another way the pandemic has impacted consumers’ lives.
“These results emphasize the toll the coronavirus has taken not only on individual parents, but perhaps on fertility rates overall,” said researcher Melanie Jacobson, Ph.D.