Lockdown baby boom myth debunked as birth rates continue to fall

The data, which analysed NHS birth notifications, follows widespread reports of a “baby boom” during the pandemic amid headlines about growing numbers of “Covid babies” or “coronials”. 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary named “coronial” – a term that became increasingly popular to describe children conceived or born during the pandemic – as one of its “words we’re watching”. 

Declining number of births ‘not surprising’

However, addressing the assumption that more babies would be born during the virus crisis, Christopher Snowdon, the head of lifestyle economics at the Institute for Economic Affairs, said: “Obviously, that was a myth. 

“The assumption was that couples would be stuck indoors and have nothing better to do than procreate – that’s a slightly old-fashioned theory, and obviously not what we were doing. These days we have contraception, and people tend to plan their families a bit more carefully.”

He added that the declining number of births was “not that surprising”, adding: “It was a very insecure time, both in terms of what the future held and also financially. 

“If people were pregnant during that time, they were considering whether they could even find a hospital bed to give birth in. It was a tense time, and people probably made the sensible decision to have fewer children.”

The ONS said “the majority of the increase in live births occurred during the second half of 2021”. 

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