The Government Shutdown Baby Boom Explains What Workers Did With All That Free Time

Seems like just yesterday almost a million federal workers were forced to furlough for 16 days, grinding government services to a halt. Actually, it was nine months ago, and evidence is now showing that all those days off didn't mean idle hours. In fact, the government shutdown may have caused a baby boom, if the surge in birth rates at Washington, D.C. hospitals this month is any indication.

The government shutdown, which occurred last October, lasted 16 days. That's longer than most people's honeymoons, and it's an ample time frame for ... conceiving things. If you think about it, it all makes sense. You're hanging out at home, and if your partner works a government job, then you're probably both lounging in your PJs, ordering Chinese takeout and watching movies in bed. "Hey," you say coyly to your partner. "You know what else we can do in bed?" Even if one of you has a non-federal job and still had to go to work, coming home was probably met with a much friendlier welcome.

At least this is what nurses in D.C.-area hospitals are theorizing, as they witness a drastic surge in births this month. Sibley Memorial Hospital in D.C. saw an increase from a daily average of 9.2 births to an average of around 12 births. Similarly, nurses at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Maryland, noticed a drastic increase this month. The number of births in the first half of July last year was 265 compared to 385 this year.

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"We keep getting asked, 'What’s going on?''" Yulette Newman, a nurse at Sibley, told the Washington Post. "And we sit back and say, 'Well, you're in D.C. What was happening nine months ago?'"

While it's just a theory at this point, if the government shutdown did inspire couples to get busy, it certainly wouldn't be the first time current events led to a baby boom.

The Post-WWII Baby Boom

Most people consider this the baby boom, and it's often known as the Baby Boomer generation. The general consensus puts this period between 1946 and 1964, during which approximately 79 million babies were born in the U.S. The generation kicked off with 3.4 million babies born in 1946, which was more than ever before. The boom peaked in 1957 with 4.3 million babies, and by 1964, the number dropped back down to 4 million and steadily decreased into the '70s.

What was the social and political climate like at the time that made couples so frisky? The combination of returning to normalcy after the end of the Second World War and a new era of prosperity made starting families a priority for Americans. And the concurrent suburban boom and influx of consumer goods made family life that much easier.

The Millennial Baby Boom

Generation Y, otherwise known as the millennials, is one I'm all too familiar with. It pains me to be associated with a generation that inspired a Backstreet Boys album. Plus, I only missed Generation X by a few years, and I relate so much more with the coming-of-age stories of Gen Xers that I grew up with in the '90s (Reality Bites, anyone?). Anyway, I digress. Most researchers consider the milliennial generation to be people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. The year 1980 marked the start of the boom with 3.6 million babies, peaking in 1989 with more than 4 million.

Some historians have called Generation Y "Generation Me," because of an increased sense of entitlement and narcissism that grew alongside the advancement of technology (social media comes to mind). It has also been called the Boomerang Generation because more millennial kids are moving back in with their parents than kids from any other generation. Characteristics of Generation Y range from "lazy," "coddled," and "delusional" at the harshest end of the spectrum to "tolerant" at the positive end.

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