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What “baby bust”? New and soon-to-be parents on choosing to have kids in dark times

“Maybe it’s like a psychological trick to make yourself feel better, but I don’t regret it.”

Photo: Ben Edwards/Getty Images
Photo: Ben Edwards/Getty Images

It’s easy to look around at the absolute disaster of the past year — the coronavirus upending society, millions unemployed, a looming climate catastrophe, the continued success of The Masked Singer — and decide that no additional people should have to suffer through existence.

So it made intuitive sense when researchers at the Brookings Institution published a study predicting a “COVID baby bust,” arguing that the instability the virus has inflicted on our lives would dramatically lower the birth rate. Extrapolating from data around the 1918 influenza pandemic and the more recent Great Recession that began in 2007, the authors concluded the US would see 300,000 to 500,000 fewer births in 2021. The prediction immediately made headlines.

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What “baby bust”?