BookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxFilledCheckBoxCircleBumpCheckedFilledMedical

Remote Work May Have Led to a Mini Baby Boom, Study Says

In 2021, America’s birth rate went up for the first time in seven years—a change economists largely attribute to remote work. But now, these family-friendly, flexible work options may be in danger.
save article
profile picture of Wyndi Kappes
By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published October 19, 2022
pregnant woman working from home at desk in bedroom
Image: Pietro Karras

For the first time in seven years, America’s birth rate is trending upwards. After 2020’s historic low (the lowest birth rate in 36 years), the rebound marks a mini baby boom or a small unexpected upward trend in births. While there are many theories around what may have contributed to the increase in births, a group of economists points to a new underlying cause—remote work.

In a new paper, economists from the National Bureau of Economic Research are quick to acknowledge a surprising realization—that despite their prediction that birthrates would crash during and after the pandemic—they largely remained the same or increased.

Researchers point to the observed 2020 decline as a misrepresentation of data that didn’t consider foreign-born mothers who were largely stopped from entering the country. In 2020-2021, there were 91,000 fewer births to foreign-born women contributing to the decline even though there was a net increase in births for US-born mothers of around 46,000 children.

So what caused the 2021 increase in births? Economists point primarily to a quickly rebounding economy and remote work. The study shows that the biggest increase in births was among first-time mothers and college-educated women who had previously forgone children in favor of demanding careers. When much of this group transitioned to work from home, it gave parents more time and flexibility to deal with the demands that pregnancy and a new baby bring.

“This episode points to the large time costs of childbearing as an additional important driver of falling fertility rates and suggests that measures to alleviate these costs, such as improving child care and allowing parents more flexibility to work from home, might be associated with higher future fertility,” the authors of the paper wrote in their closing remarks.

But instead of moving toward better childcare and flexible work schedules, many companies are rolling back pandemic work-from-home policies and cutting paid maternity leave. The future fertility rate is likely to suffer from this change, and those who chose to have children over the past two years will also struggle. Expensive or non-existent childcare services have many remote-working moms straddling a difficult return to the office—with many having to leave the workforce altogether.

If companies and the government don’t work together to break down these barriers for working mothers, it’s not only families who will suffer but the economy as a whole. According to the Center for American Progress, if moms don’t come back into the workforce, it could cost the US $64.5 billion.

Balancing work and family life isn’t always easy, but we’ve got some tips to help you manage.

save article
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

mom kissing baby at home
Tips for Planning Your Return to Work After Parental Leave
Fact Checked by G. O’Hara
mother working on laptop while holding baby
These Are the Best States for Working Moms in 2024
By Wyndi Kappes
erin andrews and her baby for enfamil campaign
Erin Andrews on Squashing Mom Guilt and Navigating Life With Baby
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
mother kissing baby before leaving for work
These States Provide the Best Work-Life Balance
By Wyndi Kappes
woman working at desk
Study: Providing Parents With Support Makes Businesses More Profitable
By Wyndi Kappes
Victoria Monét and two-year-old daughter Hazel Monét Gaines celebrate their Grammy nominations by indulging in Jimmy John’s Red Velvet Cookies while preparing for the awards show on February 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California
Victoria Monét and Daughter—The Grammy’s Youngest Nominee—Make History
By Wyndi Kappes
allison holker and family
Allison Holker Boss on Dancing, Resilience and Finding Her New Normal
By Nehal Aggarwal
ADVERTISEMENT
mom sitting at table at home thinking and pondering
I Was an Accidental SAHM—and I’m Done Feeling Guilty About It
By Kristen Bringe
Kristin Davis at the New York Pemiere of "And Just Like That..." A New Chapter of Sex and The City held at MoMA on December 8, 2021 in New York City
Why Moms Are Loving Charlotte's ‘and Just Like That’ Monologue
By Wyndi Kappes
78 Percent of Moms Are Overwhelmed by Pumping at Work
78 Percent of Moms Are Overwhelmed by Pumping at Work
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
mother holding sleeping baby at home
Caregiving Reduces Mom's Lifetime Earnings by 15 Percent, Report Says
By Wyndi Kappes
working mother sitting at home with baby and breast pump
What the PUMP Act Means for Working Parents
By Wyndi Kappes
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hugs his daughter Poppy on the ninth hole during the Par 3 Contest prior to the 2023 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 5, 2023, in Augusta, Georgia
Kids Take the Masters by Storm Dressed as Adorable Caddies
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
mother wearing baby in wrap while working on laptop at home
Study: Parents Work Longer Hours Than Non-Parents Amid Recession Fears
By Wyndi Kappes
P!nk attends the 2022 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 20, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
Balancing Acts: Pink Shares Her Journey as a Rockstar Mom
By Wyndi Kappes
Sanya Richards Ross and family
Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross on Motherhood and Finding Balance
By Nehal Aggarwal
Reps. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., Andy Kim, D-N.J., left, and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., conduct a news conference to announce the Congressional Dads Caucus outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, January 26, 2023
Congress’ New Dads Caucus Advocates for Working Parents
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Shonda Rhimes attends the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 09, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California.
Shonda Rhimes Shares the Secret Behind How She Does It All
By Wyndi Kappes
MommiNation founders talking at fundraiser event
How MommiNation Is Helping to Empower a Community of Black Moms
By Jen Hayes Lee
Rihanna is seen outside the Dior show, during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear F/W 2022-2023, on March 01, 2022 in Paris, France
Rihanna Says Being a Mom Pushed Her to Perform at the Super Bowl
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.