When the coronavirus outbreak first hit the U.S. earlier this year, some speculated that the widespread lockdowns, which confined millions of Americans to their homes, would lead to a pandemic baby boom. However, it appears that theory was unfounded — in fact, the opposite is far more likely.
A new survey released Wednesday by the Guttmacher Institute found that 34 percent of women say they will delay getting pregnant or have fewer children as a result of the pandemic. The impact was even greater among women of color: Of the 2,000 women who responded to the survey, nearly half of Black and Latina women said that they now planned to have children later.
Yet at the same time, the survey also found that many women — 29 percent of white women, 38 percent of Black women, and 45 percent of Latina women — were also having difficulty accessing birth control.
Speaking to NPR, Laura Lindberg, the study’s lead researcher, said that the obstacles to accessing contraception could be attributed to a number of factors. “One is cost. If you’ve lost your job right now, you may have lost your health insurance, and that limits the kind of providers you can go to or access.” In addition, “transportation, child care, and physically leaving your home are all more difficult right now.”
Lindberg attributed the fact that far fewer women currently want to get pregnant to the “unprecedented economic and social impacts” of the coronavirus. “It’s critical to underscore that COVID-19’s ripple effects are particularly felt by women of color, LGBTQ+ women and lower-income women,” she told The Guardian. “These groups already bear the brunt of existing inequities. The pandemic has only made these disparities worse.”
She added: “I think it’s pretty clear we’re going to have a baby bust, not a baby boom.”