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Did the Government Shutdown Result in a Baby Boom Nine Months Later?

Back in January 2019, when the government was closed and workers were on furlough, there was, you may recall, some discussion of shutdown sex: bored workers who were filling those empty days with a little horizontal stress relief. So when a new mom of our acquaintance recently told us that her ob-gyn was seeing an uptick in the number of babies being delivered, we did some quick math and wondered if the explanation might be the 35-day partial government shutdown that kept many federal employees home from work in late 2018 and early 2019. Did furlough nookie lead—intentionally or not—to a raft of pregnancies?

A query to the DC Department of Health, which keeps official track of such things, soon provided a definitive answer: Despite our anecdotal evidence, there were fewer births in September, October, and November in the District than in 2018, with 3,369 bundles of joy arriving this fall versus 3,444 during the same period a year ago. So while shutdown sex might have been a real thing, furlough fertilization appears not to have been. Maybe frisky feds are all holding out for some hot-and-heavy election procreation?

This article appears in the February 2020 issue of Washingtonian.

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Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.