A woman works at a desktop computer alongside an Apple Inc. laptop in a home office in this arranged photograph taken in Bern, Switzerland, on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. The biggest Wall Street firms are navigating how and when to bring employees safely back to office buildings in global financial hubs, after lockdowns to address the Covid-19 pandemic forced them to do their jobs remotely for months. Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. birth rate climbed 6.2 percent in 2021 — and researchers say it’s no coincidence that a high number of the country’s residents began working from home that same year. The 2021 baby boom, which followed a year that saw the birth rate drop, marked the first time in recorded history that births increased during an economic downturn, according to a study conducted by economists from UCLA, Northwestern and Princeton universities. “It’s really remarkable, because it’s the first recession where we see fertility going up rather than down,” says co-author Hannes Schwandt of Northwestern University.


Infant formula and packets of diapers at the Gracia Participa community pantry, where users in need shop using a credit system, in the Sants district of Barcelona, Spain, on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called on local grocery retailers to restrain price increases on food, as his government continues to seek ways to control the worst cost of living crisis in decades. Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg via Getty Images

While a number of the births involved first-time moms under 25 years old, an equal number of women between 25 and 44 with college degrees also contributed to the boom, says Schwandt. Those are the people most likely to have started working from home during the pandemic, he adds. “That goes right back to the classic economic theory that you need income, you need money to have children, because they’re expensive; but more importantly, you need time,” Schwandt says. “For young, professional, high-skilled women in childbearing ages, time is probably the scarcest resource they have.”

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