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Birthrates, marriage, gender roles will change dramatically in post-pandemic world, scientists predict

phys.org
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COVID-19 and America's response to it are likely to profoundly affect our families, work lives, relationships and gender roles for years, say 12 prominent scientists and authors who analyzed 90 research studies and used their expertise to evaluate our reaction to the pandemic and predict its aftermath.
Marriage rates will plummet and people will put off having children in a virus-plagued world, potentially leading to a drop in nations' populations, UCLA professor Martie Haselton and colleagues say. Credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com



The group, which included several UCLA researchers, foresees enduring psychological fallout from the crisis, even among those who haven't been infected. Their predictions and insights, published Oct. 22 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, include:

Planned pregnancies will decrease in a disease-ridden world, birthrates will drop, and many couples will postpone marriage, said senior author and UCLA professor of psychology and communication studies Martie Haselton.

People who are single are less likely to start new relationships. Women who can afford to be on their own are likely to stay single longer, Haselton said.

With children home due to the pandemic, women are spending more time providing care and schooling, are less available for paying work and may come to rely more on male partners as breadwinners, Haselton said. This will push us toward socially conservative gender norms and potentially result in a backslide in gender equality.

Unlike many past crises, this pandemic is not bringing people closer together and, despite some exceptions, it is not producing an increase in kindness, empathy or compassion, especially in the U.S., said lead author Benjamin Seitz, a UCLA psychology doctoral student with expertise in behavioral neuroscience.

"Our species is not wired for seeking a precise understanding of the world as it actually is," the authors write, and our tribal predispositions toward groupthink are resulting in the large-scale spread of misinformation We tend to seek out data that supports our opinions, and we too often distrust health experts, they say.

"The psychological, social and societal consequences of COVID-19 will be very long-lasting," Haselton said. "The longer COVID-19…
Stuart Wolpert
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