Australians may be stuck inside with not a lot to do thanks to the coronavirus but that won't necessarily lead to a baby boom, a leading demographer says.
As countries lock down in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, people have started joking the mass quarantines could lead to a new generation dubbed "coronials" or "quaranteens".
But Dr Liz Allen, a demographer with the Australian National University's Centre for Social Research and Methods, said it was unlikely there would be a bump in the number of births beyond trend expectations.
"Despite how wonderful it would be to be able to call a cohort of babies coronials, past experiences of medical and natural crises indicate that being stuck inside doesn't translate to people deciding to have children," Dr Allen said.
Dr Allen said during past epidemics, couples actually delayed having children.
"Some in the medical profession will argue the existence of blizzard babies - a boom in the number of births nine months following snow storms in North America," she said.
"But demographers will tell you that based on research investigating weather events, severe and adverse crises tend to actually result in a decline in births rates. And this makes sense, in a time of uncertainty and fear people don't decide that it's all of a sudden a great time to be having children."
The pandemic is not the only factor weighing on people's minds when deciding to have children, Dr Allen said.
"Couples overall make decisions that reflect wider social constraints. Novel coronavirus is a major challenge for the nation, but outside that Australia has a big problem when it comes to supporting families and this will come back to bite the government hard," she said.
"Australians are confronted with the harsh consequences of climate change, and we shouldn't be expecting individuals to bear the brunt of these adverse consequences. Policy can better support parents and families to ensure the future of the nation."
However, the outbreak will have an impact on another aspect of Australia's demography - migration.
Australia has now blocked the arrival of all non-citizens and non-residents due to the coronavirus.
"Migration to Australia helps keep the population young and this is important because migrants help bolster the workforce and thus government coffers," Dr Allen said.
"The government's expectations to return the budget to surplus was based on increased birth rates and overseas migration - we're unlikely to see either eventuate putting great pressure on the nation's economic wellbeing."
- For information on COVID-19, please go to the federal Health Department's website.
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