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Will Utah experience a baby boom once the pandemic is over?

By Saige Miller, KSL NewsRadio | Posted - Apr. 7, 2020 at 11:34 a.m.



SALT LAKE CITY– In the face of a pandemic, some people are curious if the next thing America will experience is a baby boom. Almost a third of Utah’s population is under the age of 34. With a rather young demographic and people cooped up at home, the question is relevant. Will Utah experience a baby boom?

Pamela Perlich, Director of Demographic Research at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute attempted to predict answer on Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry.

The short answer: Utah probably won’t see an increase in the birth rate after the pandemic is over.

Perlich dives into the specifics of her answer on the Live Mic.

Utah’s age demographics and coronavirus

It’s no secret. Older individuals are more susceptible to COVID-19. Those over the age of 65 are more likely to have a severe case of the virus and have a hirer risk of mortality. Younger folks, on the other hand, are more likely to be asymptomatic, causing them to be less adherent to social distancing policies, therefore passing along the virus.

Utah has a low positive case and death count relative to other states, but Perlich explained that it could change if younger people don’t practice social distancing, hand washing, and other restrictions put in place to keep the virus at bay.

“We do have the youngest population in the nation,” Perlich admitted. “But what we need is across all age groups to follow social distancing and all the other CDC policies to be followed.”

However, the fastest-growing population in Utah is the older age groups due to a “decline in fertility and an increase in longevity and migration patterns,” said Perlich. On top of that, Perlich points out the retirement population is growing quicker than younger populations.

The spread of the virus isn’t dependent on just age structures, but the behavior of those in all different age groups.

The possibility of a Utah baby boom

So, when the pandemic is all said and done, will Utah see a spike in births? Demographers have been busy studying the question. Perlich acknowledged two ways people are experiencing the virus: through a privileged lens and through an anxiety-ridden lens.

The privileged lens pertains to those “who can work from home, their jobs really aren’t in jeopardy,” Perlich noted. Individuals who have some stability during this uncertain time have the “opportunity for greater intimacy,” which may lead to having more children said Perlich.

On the contrary, a large portion of the population is experiencing “anxiety and fear, and maybe loss of job, and concern over basic needs,” said Perlich.

Within the last few weeks, America and Utah broke record numbers of people filing for unemployment.

And “the more concerned you are, the less likely you are to have children,” said Perlich.

In the end, the birth rate will most likely stay the same. Demographers, like the rest of us, will just have to wait and see.

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Saige Miller

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