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'The ingredients required for birth are being disrupted.' The truth about a COVID-19 baby boom.

As the COVID-19 global pandemic has grown, more and more people’s worlds have shrunk to the four walls of their homes. There’s mass unemployment, no outdoor activities, no opportunity for travel and the bulk of the minutiae of our daily lives has been put on hold.

So, of course, there’s a lot of chatter about a ‘baby boom’. By Christmas, some say, we’ll have an influx of births.

For those of us who are partnered, it seems only natural that with indoor activities the only activities we are currently allowed to partake in, sex might be high on the agenda.

But according to an Australian population expert, we’re in fact going to witness the opposite – and it could actually be quite detrimental to our country’s demographics.

“Research shows people are less likely to have children in a period of uncertainty and scarcity,” says Dr Liz Allen, a demographer from The Australian National University. “[And it could] result in serious socioeconomic consequences.”

Dr Allan explains that during severe events, we often see a decline in births – we don’t see a boom.

“During the Great Depression birth rates fell from an average of around three babies per woman to two by the end of the economic crisis. This is a substantial decline in birth rates, in terms of magnitude and the time it took to fall,” she told Mamamia.

“During historical epidemics, and indeed global pandemics, couples in the very least delay having children. This is because of economic uncertainty,” she added.

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Right now, the world feels frightening.

The death toll from coronavirus continues to rise, as countries across the world shut their borders, and order their citizens into their homes, indefinitely, in a bid to stop the spread of the global pandemic.

The current COVID-19 figures.

“In pure demographic terms, the ingredients required for births are being disrupted. Relationships are especially affected, meaning we are not going to see the formula needed to result in births,” said Dr Allen.

For those trying to get pregnant through IVF right now, that process is being affected by coronavirus.

Marriages are being affected as couples are forced to live and work on top of each other in isolation.

Dating, meeting people, socially mixing – all ingredients necessary for finding a relationship – are being affected by this pandemic.

This week Mamamia spoke to 17 different women about how coronavirus has affected their current sex lives. For some, sex is the last thing on their minds. For others, it’s actually put a halt on new blossoming relationships.

“I don’t know if I will have sex again this year,” said Peta, who is single.

While there are definitely some couples who will be getting it on more often, Dr Allen is pretty certain we won’t see a dramatic shift in birth numbers.

There is a chance, she says, that a boom might come once the pandemic is over and we’re out of lockdown and the associated economic crisis.

coronavirus sex
While some couples will see an increase in their sex lives during isolation, it won't translate to a 'baby boom.' Image: Getty.
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"People who’ve delayed births due to the uncertainty might decide to have children then. But it’s unlikely, on the balance of things... Australia is more likely to see foregone births than a boom and this will have consequences for Australia’s future," Dr Allen explained to Mamamia.

In fact, Dr Allen fears coronavirus will have an unprecedented generational impact and our population will be forever changed.

"Australia’s population is ageing and not replacing itself. Evidence from elsewhere in the world shows that as birth rates become very low, say around 1.5 and under, birth rates don’t tend to bounce back. In other words, Australia could be faced with a decline in its population in the future, which isn’t a bad thing in its own right.

"The problems stem from the fact we will then be in a position that families, especially women, will bear the brunt of socioeconomic stress needing to balance paid work, family, and life generally," she said.

Dr Allen points to what she calls "unfair tax incentives," to explain the effects of an ageing Australia, which see young people support the privileges of property owners while they simultaneously are unable to break into the property market themselves.

But it's not all bad news.

Us Aussies are a resourceful bunch.

Dr Allen says the re-invention of relationships during this time of COVID-19 uncertainty is doing great things to bond us all together as a nation.

“Families are re-inventing. [Things like] video chats with relatives, online community gaming, and e-playdates with friends are now being used to build and maintain community," said Dr Allen.

Feature image: Getty.

The current situation around COVID-19 might be making you feel scared or uncertain. It's okay to feel this way, but it's also important to learn how to manage feelings of anxiety during this time. To download the free PDF: Anxiety & Coronavirus - How to Manage Feelings of Anxiety click here.

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