COVID-19 pandemic and the short term changes in fertility
COVID-19 caught the world unprepared, and its consequences are raising far-reaching demographic dilemmas. In this paper we look at the relationship between the General Fertility Rate (GFR) and economic uncertainty. The GFR is calculated using monthly data on births from the Short-Term Fertility Fluctuations data series on 17 European countries from 2010 to 2021. Our main independent variables are measures of subjective uncertainty constructed from Eurobarometer survey data – individual’s perceptions about their own current job situation and household finances. We use also objective measures of economic uncertainty such as unemployment rate and the consumer confidence index, traditionally used in the literature. Using fixed-effects regression models, we contribute to a better understanding of the fertility trends since the Great Recession by exploring the link between fertility and economic uncertainty, checking also whether it changed in the pandemic period.
We show that economic uncertainty is pushing fertility down making recovery slower that it could otherwise be. We also show that during the pandemic period the subjective measures of uncertainty regarding individuals’ job and household finances have stronger effects than that of the measures of objective economic uncertainty.