Expert pours cold water on virus baby boom

Finbar O'Mallon

One leading demographer has put the idea of a coronavirus induced baby boom under a cold shower.

With social distancing forcing couples to stay indoors, some are saying it may see an explosion in birth rates.

But Australian National University's Liz Allen says the opposite is actually more likely.

"Past experiences of medical and natural crises indicate that being stuck inside doesn't translate to people deciding to have children," Dr Allen told AAP.

"People might be getting sexy indoors, but it's unlikely a bump in births will be realised beyond trend expectations."

She said the post-World War II boom was a result of people delaying having kids during wartime, a greater availability of partners and economic certainty.

"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," Dr Allen said.

"If Australia was to see a boom in births following the coronavirus pandemic it will be long after the lockdown and associated economic crisis is over."

"Australia is more likely to see foregone births than a boom. This will have consequences for Australia's future."

Singapore has seen panic buying of condoms, but Dr Allen said this was because Singaporeans had been using them as an alternative to gloves.

Money woes, not so much being cooped up with a partner, would likely cause any increase in divorce or separation rates, Dr Allen said.

Racial tensions brought on by Australians blaming migrants for the virus, as well as a lack of economic support for immigrants, would likely see migrants leave the country, she warned.

"Australia desperately needs migrants to stay and contribute to maintaining the economy and, in time, rebuilding after the pandemic passes," Dr Allen said.