Northwestern professor predicts fewer births, more divorces due to coronavirus pandemic

At first, many thought the pandemic would lead to a baby boom. But that may not be the case.

It’s hard to predict the future, especially right now. But one sociology professor says history has taught us that a recession and unrest does not equal more babies.

“I’m fairly confident that we'll have fewer babies in 9 to 12 months,” said Northwestern Sociology Professor Christine Percheski.

This is not what we were seeing in some headlines early on, with some guessing sheltering in place would end in the maternity ward.

“That was very misguided. This is not a snowstorm,” Percheski said.

She explains that life right now is hard and unemployment is high.

“This is not the time when most families say, you know what third or fourth kid would really make life better right now,” Percheski said.

So births will be down, but she says divorces will most likely be up.

“Because it's costly to get a lawyer, it's costly to set up a new independent household, so don't expect the divorces right away. Expect them to come a little later,” Percheski said.

Julie Levitt, an OB/GYN at Northwestern, says she's not yet seeing a drastic decline at her practice.

“Our numbers are typically a little bit slower in the wintertime and January looks steady. It doesn't look high, it doesn't look low, but that remains to be seen yet,” Levitt said.

But there is a change in women and how some of them are feeling.

“I am hearing patients come in with an apology. At times, not always, but they are saying, I realized that this might not be the best time to be pregnant,” Levitt said.

Some patients are even skeptical of going to their wellness check.

Doctor Levitt's advice: consider the future, but remember that families still need to grow.

There are also fewer weddings and less dating, thanks to social distancing, so that decreases the number of planned and unplanned births.