When the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, speculation about the short- and long-term demographic effects of the health crisis—and measures taken to mitigate it—dominated headlines globally. Experts debated potential scenarios, including both significant declines and significant increases in birth rates, disruptions in health care access and use, and declines in life expectancy, among other possibilities. Until recently, however, the evidence around the pandemic’s impact on key demographic indicators has been limited.
In the 2022 World Population Data Sheet’s special focus on COVID-19, we explore the recently available evidence on the pandemic’s effects on births and deaths around the world. How did the COVID-19 pandemic, and government responses that limited social interactions and movements, affect the number of deaths? Did the pandemic shape access to health care, including family planning, or change couples’ fertility intentions in ways that increased or decreased births? Were all populations affected equally? Explore these questions to get a deeper understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.