■The COVID-19 crisis has had various effects on Japanese society.
■Healthcare, economy, education and culture
■This document investigates what kinds of impacts the COVID-19 crisis has had on the number of births.
■For analysis of the number of marriages, see “Marriage During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Chiba, Nakata).”
■Changes in the COVID-19 pandemic and the future outlook
■Demographic statistics from January to September 2021 (approximate figures)
■Demographic statistics from October to November 2021 (preliminary report figures)
■Clear downtrend in the number of marriages before the COVID-19 crisis
■Decrease in the number of marriages, growing tendency to marry late, growing tendency for later childbirth
■During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of pregnancies decreased significantly at the time of the first wave and the first declaration of a state of emergency.
■In line with this, the number of births in January and February 2021 decreased significantly.
■Even though the number of births will recover, it is expected to decrease in December 2021 and January 2022.
■This reflects a significant decrease in the number of pregnancy notifications in May 2021.
■The number of births in 2021 (estimate based on confirmed values) may be about 810,000 people.
■This is about 50,000 people (5.7%) below the trend.
■We can say that the “impact of the COVID-19 crisis” is limited at present as the figures for 2019 and 2020 were also 30 to 40,000 people below the trend.
■In the medium to long-term, the decrease in the number of marriages during the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a decrease in the number of births.
■That is if there is no increase in the future sufficient to just make up for the decrease in marriages during this two-year period.
■The number of “marriages lost during the COVID-19 pandemic” is about 110,000. If these are not made up for, the number of “missing births” will be about 210,000 people.
■Since when could people’s birth-related behavior have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
■January 2020: Detection of infected person for the first time in Japan
■February 2020: First fatal case in Japan
■Quarantining of Diamond Princess at Port of Yokohama
■Request for closure of all elementary and junior high schools nationwide
■March 2020: Request for self-restraint on going out on weekends in Tokyo and Osaka
■April 2020: Declaration of a state of emergency nationwide
■A sense of crisis was shared among society from before the declaration in April.
■In this analysis, the period from February 2020 is defined as “the period when the COVID-19 crisis could have affected pregnancy.”
■Considering that the average period from pregnancy to notification of pregnancy is about 7.5 weeks (about two months)*1, the period after April 2020 is defined as “the period when the COVID-19 crisis could have affected the number of notifications of pregnancy.”
■Considering that the average period from pregnancy to childbirth is about 38 weeks (about nine months)*1, the period after November 2020 is defined as “the period when the COVID-19 crisis could have affected the number of births.”
・The number of pregnancy notifications stagnated from May to August 2020
・Responding to pregnancy during the first wave (March to June 2020) and the first declaration of a state of emergency (April to May 2020)
・Recovery trend since September 2020
・The number of pregnancies stagnated again from May to July 2021
・Responding to pregnancy during the period of control of the third wave to the fourth wave (March to May 2021) and the third declaration of a state of emergency (from April 2021)
Number of Pregnancy Notifications - Change in Monthly Comparison with 2018
Estimates of Births from December 2021 to January 2022
■We estimated monthly births from the number of pregnancy notifications (monthly data)
■e.g., We estimated the number of births up to January 2022 based on the current latest number of pregnancy notifications up to August 2021.
■There is a pattern in the discrepancies between the estimates from the number of pregnancies and the number of births.
■The monthly discrepancies vary from less than 1% to about 13% and are also reflected in the estimates.
Number of Births: Backcast of the Last Two Months
Number of Births: Estimated Figures for 2021
Number of Births During the COVID-19 Pandemic
■The number of births in January and February 2021 (corresponding to the period of the first wave and the first declaration of a state of emergency) decreased significantly.
■The case in accordance with the trend prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (January 2010 to October 2020) would have been 72,000 births in January 2021.-> In fact, there were about 11,000 people (16%) fewer than that.
■The case in accordance with the trend prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (January 2010 to October 2020) would have been a total of 143,000 births in January to February 2021.-> In fact, there were about 26,000 people (18%) fewer than that.
■This reflected the fact that people refrained from pregnancy immediately after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
■Recovery trend since March 2021
■The number of births in December 2021 and January 2022 in estimates based on the number of pregnancy notifications are likely to be stagnant.
■While this stagnation may be temporary, it is also possible that the recovery from March 2021 was temporary as well.
■This stagnation may be a sign of the impact of the decline in the number of marriages in 2020 and 2021.
■“Marriage During the COVID-19 Pandemic” (Chiba, Nakata)
■The average number of years from marriage to the birth of the first child is about 2.5 years.
■If it is assumed that there will be no significant change in the number of births per person, a decrease in the number of marriages will lead to a decrease in the number of births.
■The number of marriages decreased by about 110,000 in 2020 and 2021.
■If the number of marriages from 2022 does not rise enough to “make up” for the stagnation in the number of marriages during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is calculated that the number of births will decrease by about 210,000 people (= 11 * 1.95) over the next few years.