By Gavin Jones and Emma Thomasson ROME / BERLIN (Reuters) – Maybe it was the stress. Maybe he was locked up with the mother-in-law. But the numbers are there, and one effect of the coronavirus lockdown is now clear: People had fewer babies. Much fewer babies. Births in Italy in December, exactly nine months after the country entered Europe’s first blockade, plummeted by a whopping 21.6%, according to figures from a sample of 15 Italian cities released this week by the agency. ISTAT statistics. And the impact is far from over. Marriages fell by more than half in the first 10 months of last year, which ISTAT director Gian Carlo Blangiardo called “one more factor in a likely decline in births in the immediate future.” Demographic experts have been predicting a baby collapse in Europe by 2021 as the impact of last year’s lockdowns is being felt. A survey conducted in five European countries during the close of March and April showed that many people canceled their plans to have children. The Germans and French were more likely to say they were running late, while the Italians were more likely to say they had abandoned their plans altogether. Last year, Britain saw a drop in baby stroller imports https://tmsnrt.rs/3cNiwsi, to the lowest level since records began in 2000. (Yes, the Treasury counts baby stroller imports . In tons). Not yet complete, the German statistics office said 2020 was likely the first year since 2011 that the population did not increase, both because of declining births and because COVID-19 meant fewer people immigrated. Still, there are signs that some people who put off having babies in 2020 may finally get down to business. Sales of pregnancy tests and vitamins for pregnancy in Germany have increased in recent months, according to a survey conducted for the pharmaceutical news service Apotheke Adhoc. “The greater the economic fears, the greater the impact on the birth rate,” said Martin Bujard, deputy director of the German Federal Institute for Population Research. “So, in countries where the welfare state minimizes the economic impact, like Germany, there may be fewer negative effects.” (Chart: UK baby stroller imports fall to a record low in 2020: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/polling/dgkplknbgvb/Pasted%20image%201612434912647.png)
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