Does Hurricane Hunkering Down Mean We’re In For A Baby Boom?

This map of Sandy reminds me of the sheets of a boy I knew at NYU after he had ill-advisedly turned on a black light in his dorm room.

  • This map of Sandy reminds me of the sheets of a boy I knew at NYU after he had ill-advisedly turned on a black light in his dorm room.

We might be! Because that’s one thing New York—especially Brooklyn—needs. More babies!

The New York Times decided to investigate the theory that “catastrophes, in short, have a way of driving people together and influencing major life decisions.” In other words, when you think you might die, you throw caution to the wind and cling as tightly as possible to whoever is around you, tying yourself together by sharing DNA. Romance, thy name is Sandy.

So, what has science determined? Did all the people who had to hunker down for Sandy impregnate one another? Well, maybe. But also maybe not. It’s hard to say. One study in South Carolina determined that, after Hurricane Hugo, “marriages and births spiked in the 24 counties declared disaster areas.” But, then again, so did divorce rates. Hmmm. Another study “found that birthrates climbed in Oklahoma after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.” And yet OTHER studies found evidence that is completely contrary to these findings, like one that examined “decades of data from Italy and Japan” where researchers found “decreases in fertility after earthquakes.”

So, what does all this mean in terms of how many strollers we will have to prepare ourselves to be bombarded by? The conclusion reached by the Times is that “there is evidence that large-scale catastrophes may influence birth and marriage rates, but in which direction is not clear.” In other words, there is no conclusion. Things may happen. Or they may not. Consider yourself prepared!

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