The COVID-19 baby bump in the United States

Martha J. Bailey, Janet Currie, Hannes Schwandt

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3 Scopus citations


We use natality microdata covering the universe of US. births for 2015 to 2021 and California births from 2015 through February 2023 to examine childbearing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. We find that 60% of the 2020 decline in US fertility rates was driven by sharp reductions in births to foreign-born mothers although births to this group comprised only 22% of all US births in 2019. This decline started in January 2020. In contrast, the COVID-19 recession resulted in an overall “baby bump” among US-born mothers, which marked the first reversal in declining fertility rates since the Great Recession. Births to US-born mothers fell by 31,000 in 2020 relative to a prepandemic trend but increased by 71,000 in 2021. The data for California suggest that US births remained elevated through February 2023. The baby bump was most pronounced for first births and women under age 25, suggesting that the pandemic led some women to start families earlier. Above age 25, the baby bump was most pronounced for women aged 30 to 34 and women with a college education. The 2021 to 2022 baby bump is especially remarkable given the large declines in fertility rates that would have been projected by standard statistical models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2222075120
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number34
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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