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The COVID-19 Pandemic and Fertility Trends

12 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2020

See all articles by Alfonso Carballo

Alfonso Carballo

Bocconi University

Margherita Corina

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology



Background: The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on birth rates are not yet known and only very few studies have addressed this issue. However, the pandemic has triggered a massive uncertainty in several dimensions, leading to disruptive economic and social changes that could affect trends in fertility rates in more than 170 countries. Given that the pandemic could have significant consequences for the future population, this paper proposes some approximations on future scenarios in fertility trends.

Methods: Based on a VAR model, we exploit the variations in total fertility rates and changes in real GDP observed in recent years, as well as the economic growth projections by the Monetary Fund International.

Findings: The COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate declining fertility trends in several high- and middle-income countries, perhaps to unprecedented levels, thus uncovering major failures in motherhood policies and institutions. In low-income countries, the effects of the pandemic would be less. Total fertility rates in the world could be below the replacement level of 2.1 by 2040. Portugal, Spain, Greece, Finland, Italy, Ireland, and the United States could even have total fertility rates below 1. The possible patterns of fertility convergence observed in recent years could also be significantly altered.

Interpretation: Unlike other lethal plagues in history, in which high mortality rates determined subsequent birth behaviors, we suggest that uncertainty triggered by the COVID-19 would play a central role in explaining future fertility patterns, as the economic and social consequences of the pandemic extend for several years. Given their consequences for the future population, governments should place fertility policies as part of their core concerns and strategies for recovery from the pandemic.

Funding Statement: No funding was provided for the production of this research.

Declaration of Interests: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest(s).

Keywords: COVID-19, Great Lockdown, Fertility

Suggested Citation

Carballo, Alfonso and Corina, Margherita, The COVID-19 Pandemic and Fertility Trends. Available at SSRN: or

Alfonso Carballo (Contact Author)

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136
+393713223092 (Phone)

Margherita Corina

Bocconi University - Department of Management and Technology ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, MI 20136

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