Netflix, but no chill? No baby boom as births in Ireland decline by 22 percent 1 month ago

Netflix, but no chill? No baby boom as births in Ireland decline by 22 percent

It seems Irish couples have been busy with anything but making babies during this year in lockdown.

According to new figures from the General Register Office, just over 4,700 babies were registered in January this year – meaning it fell by more than a fifth at the start of the year compared to 2020.

This marks a 22 percent annual decline, according to the figures released to Newstalk Breakfast.

However, despite predictions we would see a lockdown baby boom, Mary Corcoran, a Professor of Sociology at NUI Maynooth, explained on Newstalk Breakfast that the statistics were not a huge surprise.

Professor Corcoran said that while birth rates in Ireland have been consistently on the decline since 2010, it seems that something "different" or a "blip" may have occurred in January for the numbers to decline so steeply.

"Thinking back to last April and May, people were going through a very severe adjustment with the arrival of lockdown," Corcoran explained. "We were frightened out of our wits" and "seeking certainty. In some ways, although the idea that, oh it's really funky, we're stuck at home, there's nothing else to do but be intimate with each other, actually it could have been the opposite."

It seems, according to the professor, we had too many other things on our hands back in April/May, and making babies was not on the list.

"People were at home, that women are completely stretched doing their normal day job, trying to homeschool their children, producing several meals a day, doing Facetime with older parents, whatever the case may be. That is extremely stressful and exhausting."

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She added: "We do know that research has shown that women have born the burden of the pandemic in terms of their work at home and also the fact that three-quarters of healthcare workers are women, so there's a lot of women in stressful workplaces at the same time.

"If you think about all those factors, and we can only speculate, what we can say is that people were just bloody exhausted in April and May from the adjustment that was required to keep going and that meant there was less than the predicted outcome of babies in January."

As well as having our hands full with homeschool and making food around the clock at home, there was also the fact that events that might ordinarily precede the conception of a baby (weddings, holidays, parties, weekends away) were off the cards.

Professor Evelyn Mahon, from the school of Sociology and Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin, was also interviewed on the show, and pointed out that the lack of social events might just be the biggest reason why fewer babies were made last spring.

"That seems to be to me the death knell to any kind of romantic encounters between people," Professor Mahon said.

"So I think those issues and those personal circumstances are very important in explaining that very large reduction for that particular month, as well as the things Mary mentioned."