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Ohio reports more deaths than births; experts cite pandemic

Ohio’s birthrate has been declining for years while the number of deaths across the state has risen.
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the first time in state history, Ohio recorded more deaths than births last year, a development experts say was expedited by COVID-19.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Monday that roughly 143,661 Ohioans died last year while 129,313 were born, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health. So far in 2021, Ohio has logged 107,462 deaths and 100,781 births.

The newspaper reported that in the 112 years since statewide record-keeping began in 1909, data it compiled along with the Ohio History Connection shows deaths never previously surpassed births despite countless wars, economic downturns and disease.

Ohio’s birthrate has been declining for years while the number of deaths across the state has risen, meaning the two metrics were likely to swap places at some point. But data shows the pandemic rapidly hastened the switch, the newspaper reported.

The virus killed an estimated 13,927 Ohioans in 2020 alone, according to the state health department. That means the pandemic may account for 97% of the 14,348-person difference in births and deaths in 2020.

In 2021, COVID-19 killed more than 9,400 Ohioans, which is more than the 6,681 difference in births and deaths so far this year.

Meanwhile, a pandemic baby boom some health officials predicted never occurred.

Ohio wasn’t alone in seeing more deaths than births last year. In 2020, a record 25 states had deaths exceed births, according to research from the University of New Hampshire. In 2019, just five states saw more deaths than births.

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