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NEWSWIRE: 3/17/21

  • According to a new analysis of annual data from 32 U.S. states, births were down by 95,000, or about 4.4%, in 2020 compared to the year before. Of the states with data available, all of them reported a drop in births except for New Hampshire. (CBS News)
    • NH: Birth data for 2020 continue to trickle in. And they are confirming our findings of a looming pandemic baby bust.
    • This new CBS analysis of 32 states found a decline of 95,000 births YoY for 2020. Unfortunately, CBS did not specify which states they analyzed, so we can't extrapolate the decline for the entire US population. But their finding of a 4.4% decline for these states is in line with my early estimate of a 5.2% decline nationwide. (See “US Births Now in Freefall.”) 
    • New Hampshire was the only state to report a YoY increase in 2020 births. This is probably because the state didn’t officially enter lockdown until March 28, later than most states. It also had relatively few cases and deaths in the spring months. Expect to see a decline in births starting in 2021, reflecting the virus' later impact on the state.
    • The 2020 decline in births is clearly driven by two developments: First, a somewhat higher-than-expected decline in pregnancies from April of 2019 through January of 2020; and second, a very sharp drop in pregnancies in February and March, some of which was reflected in the larger YoY birth decline registered in December of 2020.
    • CBS was able to obtain data from 28 states on births in December alone. They found a 7.3% YoY December decline, which as expected was a larger drop than the decline for the entire year.
    • In our earlier piece, we misreported the number of births in California for December. We simply passed on the data that Bloomberg provided, which was a 19.1% decline. But after we requested the official numbers from the California Department of Public Health, we discovered births fell by only 10.2% YoY in December. On the other hand, we also confirmed that California births declined by a whopping 23.2% YoY in January of 2021. Inference: 2021 is when we can expect to see the steepest decline in births. 
    • I will be keeping an eye out for both full-year and December data from New York and Texas. They make up 6% and 9%, respectively of the US population. (California makes up 12%.) These states will play an outsized role in determining the national trend. It will be fascinating to see whether state differences in Covid-19 policy responses and death rates will correlate with the magnitude of birth declines. I’ll be sure to keep you up to date as the data become available.
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