French Births Drop to Lowest Since World War II as Pandemic Hit

France risks a demographic slump as the Covid-19 pandemic and repeated lockdowns have sent the number of childbirths tumbling to the lowest level since World War II.

The severity of the slide began nine months after the beginning of France’s first lockdown, leaving “little doubt” over the link with the health crisis, national statistics agency Insee said.

While births had already been on a downward trend for roughly six years, in December they fell 7% from the year before, and 13% in January 2021--the sharpest decline since 1975.

French Births Drop to Lowest Since World War II as Pandemic Hit

Whether the fall in births is the beginning of a long-term trend remains to be seen, Insee said.

The health crisis may have discouraged couples from having children altogether, or only delayed their plans, according to the agency. There are also other factors, including the closing of fertility clinics during the first lockdown in the spring of 2020.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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