This is the main conclusion of a study conducted by Bocconi University in Italy and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, using numerical models and analysing data from 22 countries.

Pandemics are a key driver of changes in human populations, affecting both mortality and birth rates.

Preliminary data now suggest that the covid-19 pandemic has lowered the birth rate in high-income countries.

The data show that the pandemic was accompanied by a significant decline in gross birth rates beyond what was predicted by past trends in seven of the 22 countries considered.

Gross birth rates fell by 8.5 percent in Hungary, 9.1 percent in Italy, 8.4 percent in Spain and 6.6 percent in Portugal.

The data provides information on various phases of the first wave and indicate that in some countries, such as France and Spain, a recovery in birth rates was observed in March 2021 compared to June 2020.

For these countries, the month of June 2020 marked the point at which the first wave of the pandemic diminished, thus possibly reflecting a reversal.

According to the authors, the results reveal the impact of the pandemic on population dynamics and may have political implications for childcare, housing and the labour market.