America’s COVID Population Implosion

4 min

Many thought that the government-imposed lockdowns of 2020 might result in a temporary reprieve of the United States’ falling birth rates. Unfortunately, it appears that this will not be  the silver lining of COVID-19 after all.

Economists Melissa Kearney and Philip Levine believe that there will be 300,000 “missing births” due to the pandemic, based on statistical data available through January 2021. Writing in The New York TimesKearney and Levine explain that January 2021 was the first month in which babies conceived during the lockdowns would have been born. Even after adjusting for the country’s increasing secularization and seasonal trends, they report that births fell by 7.2 percent in Florida and 10.5 percent in California.

Compare this with the United States as a whole from 2008-2018. In 2008 just under 4.25 million babies were born, while in 2018 births measured at 3.79 million, meaning that over 10 years, American fertility dropped by 10.8 percent. The 300,000 missing COVID births amount to an 8 percent decrease in the expected 2021 birth rate, in just one year.

Even if one does not consider human life to be an inherent good, the economic prospects of this baby bust are threatening. As Kearney and Levine note, the baby bust will result in a smaller work force, which “portends lower economic productivity and fewer workers to contribute to the tax base.” Additionally, the already stressed Social Security system will come under greater duress sooner, as the ratio of workers to retirees takes a tumble.

Liberals will likely point to the influx of illegal immigrants crossing the border as a way to make up for these economic problems. However, it is worth noting that the average hourly wage for an illegal immigrant is 42 percent lower than the wages of U.S.-born workers and legal immigrants. As a result, their contributions into the system will also be much lower.

For the small segment of people who remain unconcerned with both the moral and demographic implications on the one hand, and the economic impacts on the other, this dearth of births will be cause for celebration. The environmentalist movement will certainly be well pleased. After all, as Ian Dowbiggin notes in the February issue of Chronicles, environmentalism properly understood traces its roots back to a concern about overpopulation, as expressed most famously by Paul Ehrlich in his popular and extraordinarily erroneous book The Population Bomb. Dowbiggin writes:

Interestingly, Ehrlich’s best seller appeared at just about the time that, demographically speaking, the fertility of the American family had begun to decline. His advice to American couples to ‘stop at two’ sought to spread awareness of increasing pressures of overpopulation on the natural world. To Ehrlich, overpopulation was the main cause of poverty, pollution, disease, malnutrition, and social injustice.

American fertility cratered in the decade after oral contraceptives were first introduced in 1960, eight years prior to Ehrlich’s book, falling by more than a full child per woman by 1970. Today that number is even worse, falling from a birth rate of 3.58 children per woman in 1960 to 1.78 children in 2020—a reduction by more than half.

Ehrlich’s concern about overpopulation was misguided. Americans have become quite adept at providing all sorts of justifications for putting off having children or avoiding them entirely. In the vein of Ehrlich, children are bad for the environment, which is bad for social justice—not having them is “woke.” We can also justify avoiding children to fulfill our own selfish desires for more luxuries we don’t really need. Modern society provides more assistance by telling us that an unborn human life in his mother’s womb is not really a human being, but merely a disposable clump of cells.

Even prior to this COVID baby bust, Ehrlich’s predictions about the effects of “overpopulation” have been proven wrong time after time. Besides, if there is any sort of population bomb that has gone off in America or elsewhere in the Western world in the past 60 years, it is decidedly of the implosive variety, rather than the explosive.

When even left-wing think tank economists, such as Kearney and Levine of the Brookings Institution, are warning America of its impending demographic challenges, it is likely that the fallout of our selfishness will arrive sooner rather than later. It’s time for Americans to reevaluate their priorities.


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Anders Koskinen

Anders Koskinen

Anders Koskinen is an Editorial Associate at Intellectual Takeout. He earned his BA from the University of Minnesota in December 2016 where he graduated with a double major in Journalism and Political Science.

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So, all our problems -- CO2 and climate change, aquifers sinking, the rain forests disappearing, waste issues (especially plastic), species extinction, the exponential loss of farm land to development, water shortages all over the world, some rivers running dry before they reach the ocean, subsidence (the gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land caused by the removal of subsurface water) -- all these can be solved by simply creating more consumers, right? Ehrlich was right, even though what he predicted has not happened as quickly as he predicted, and the best this article can do to disprove it is a silly wager (link) Ehrlich made? I weep for humanity when such stupidity as this article is written.


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T Boy
Net gain in US population is still 1 person added every 40 seconds. US Population is up 120% since 1950. That's 1 new Seattle every year. World population growth from 10 BC to 1960 AD - 3B. From 1960 to 2019 4.7B added. Next week you'll forget this article and tell us we'll all die in 12 years from Global Warming which is directly proportional to population growth.


quote: "forget this article and tell us we'll all die in 12 years from Global Warming which is directly proportional to population growth." Where'd ya get THAT load of hooey? Go back and find some graphs showing global surface temps, (UN-ADULTERATED) by decade since oh, let's say 1200. Now again find graphs telling global population by decade. Overlay the graphs lining up the year scale, then go kick yer silly self in the hinder parts. Warmer temps LEAD population. Take yer lies outta here
In my opinion, the U.S. should strive to hold it's population between 100 million and 200 million long-term. We are presently at 332 million. Threats to environment as the U.S. and world pops go up...water, climate change, extinction of species. Stress GDP per person instead of total GDP. Reduce the size of the federal govt so we stop spending money we don't have. Wages for workers would likely go UP. In a perfect world, abortion certainly would not exist. I reluctantly am pro-abortion because it assists in keeping us from breeding our way off the face of the planet.


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They want population reduction so it all fits into their plans.


You forgot to include an evil laugh and a reference to George Soros, the Rothchilds and Satan worshiping lizard people from Mars who rule the world.