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Wondering what will happen with birth rates, divorce filings? These comparisons might give us some clues

Based on unprecedented nature of COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of unknowns linger

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For better or for worse, for many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has created lots of time for couples to be around each other.

Being stuck at home has created plenty of chances for pairs to become closer or drift further apart.

All of the time has led to an intriguing question for when the pandemic subsides: Will it lead to more babies being born or more divorce filings?

The answer could be both -- as hospitals and courtrooms have a chance to see an uptick in future activity as a result of the pandemic.

Using natural disasters as reference

Historically, natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes, snowstorms or blackouts that result in more couples spending time at home together have produced mixed results when it comes to birth rates and divorces, according to reports.

In relation to hurricanes, a Johns Hopkins study titled “The fertility effect of catastrophe: U.S. hurricane births” found that, after tracking births in the Atlantic and Gulf regions nine months after big storms, more babies were conceived when the warnings were less severe. As the severity of the warnings got higher, there weren’t as many babies born.

Snowstorms also have led to an increase in birth rates, according to a study by Treetopia, which chronicled the 10 “steamiest snowstorms” that caused the biggest hike in birth rates with people confined to their homes.

As for divorces, a report on Slate found that they tend to decrease after man-made catastrophes, but increase after natural disasters.

After Sept. 11, 2001, the report said, the number of couples filing for divorce in New York dropped by 32%, while divorce rates decreased for seven counties surrounding Oklahoma City following the bombing of a federal building there in 1995.

However, the divorce rate around New Orleans doubled to 4.4% following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Divorce rates also increased in counties hit by Hurricane Hugo and Hurricane Andrew, according to Slate.

What will come from an unprecedented pandemic?

While natural and weather disasters force people to be stuck inside for days, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant couples are being isolated in their homes for weeks and months -- for the first time in their lifetime.

There’s often a boom in divorce filings and couples counseling during summer vacations and winter break, according to Psychology Today, and the COVID-19 quarantine will likely last longer than any of those breaks, although that does differ by region.

Divorce filings reportedly skyrocketed in China once that country reopened in March.

However, marriages can be strengthened by all the extra time spent at home if you follow some tips, according to CNN.

In terms of births, all the free time at home has and will continue to create more opportunities for romance and potential baby-making.

There’s reportedly a condom shortage around the world, while sales of sex toys saw significant increases in March, according to Vice.

“It’s probably going to be the biggest baby boom we’ve seen,” said Dr. Kevin Kathrotia of Millennium Neonatology, as was reported by FOX Business.

However, not everyone believes the increased time spent together will lead to more intimacy for couples.

A new study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology found that 80% of people don’t plan to conceive during the crisis.

Some experts believe the stresses of the pandemic and watching kids at home all the time will leave people too tired for intimacy, according to Today.

So, what exactly will the effect of the pandemic have on birth and divorce rates?

Just like so many other aspects surrounding the coronavirus, it might take months or years to truly find out.


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