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Did Improvements in Household Technology Cause the Baby Boom? Evidence from Electrification, Appliance Diffusion, and the Amish

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  • Martha J. Bailey
  • William J. Collins

Abstract

We examine the hypothesis that advances in household technology caused the US baby boom, and we find no support for this claim. Advances in household technology occurred before the baby boom, while fertility declined. From 1940 to 1960, levels/changes in county-level appliance ownership and electrification negatively predict levels/changes in fertility rates. Exposure to electricity in early adulthood and children-ever-born are negatively correlated for the relevant cohorts. The Amish, who used modern technologies much less than other US households, experienced a coincident baby boom. This evidence can be reconciled with economic theory if other home-produced goods are substitutes with children. (JEL D12, J13, N32, N92, O33)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics.

Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 189-217

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmac:v:3:y:2011:i:2:p:189-217

Note: DOI: 10.1257/mac.3.2.189
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  1. Gordon, Robert J., 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226304557.
  2. Doepke, Matthias & Hazan, Moshe & Maoz, Yishay D., 2007. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 3253, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Sue Bowden & Avner Offer, 1994. "Household appliances and the use of time: the United States and Britain since the 1920s," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 47(4), pages 725-748, November.
  4. Alexander J. Field, 2003. "The Most Technologically Progressive Decade of the Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1399-1413, September.
  5. Gary S. Becker, 1960. "An Economic Analysis of Fertility," NBER Chapters, in: Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries, pages 209-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Valerie A. Ramey & Neville Francis, 2009. "A Century of Work and Leisure," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(2), pages 189-224, July.
  7. Martha J. Bailey & William J. Collins, 2004. "The Wage Gains of African-American Women in the 1940s," NBER Working Papers 10621, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  9. Raquel Fernandez, 2007. "Women, Work, and Culture," NBER Working Papers 12888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2002. "Women, War and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Mid-Century," NBER Working Papers 9013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. W. Michael Cox & Richard Alm, 1997. "Time well spent: the declining real cost of living in America," Annual Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, pages 2-24.
  12. Robert J. Gordon, 1990. "The Measurement of Durable Goods Prices," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gord90-1.
  13. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2002. "The Baby Boom and Baby Bust," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 1, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  14. Fernández, Raquel, 2007. "Women, Work and Culture," CEPR Discussion Papers 6153, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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Cited by:
  1. Albanesi, Stefania & Olivetti, Claudia, 2010. "Maternal Health and the Baby Boom," CEPR Discussion Papers 7925, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Curtis Simon & Robert Tamura, 2010. "Secular Fertility Declines, Baby Booms and Economic Growth: International Evidence," 2010 Meeting Papers 1041, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Rosamaría Dasso & Fernando Fernandez, 2013. "The Effects of Electrification on Employment in Rural Peru," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0150, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  4. Tamura, Robert & Simon, Curtis & Murphy, Kevin M., 2012. "Black and White Fertility, Differential Baby Booms: The Value of Civil Rights," MPRA Paper 40921, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. repec:hka:wpaper:2013-03 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Kohlin, Gunnar & Sills, Erin O. & Pattanayak, Subhrendu K. & Wilfong, Christopher, 2011. "Energy, gender and development: what are the linkages ? where is the evidence ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5800, The World Bank.

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