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From Busts to Booms, in Babies and Goodies

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  • Michele Boldrin
  • Larry Jones
  • Alice Schoonbroodt

Abstract

After the fall in fertility during the Demographic Transition, many developed countries experienced a baby bust, followed by the Baby Boom and subsequently a return to low fertility. Received wisdom from the Demography literature links these large fluctuations in fertility to the series of Economics 'shocks' that occurred with similar timing -- the Great Depression, WWII, the economic expansion that followed and then the productivity slow down of the 1970's. To economists, this line of argument suggests a more general link between fluctuations in output and fertility decisions, of which the Baby-Bust-Boom-Bust event (BBB) is a particularly stark example. This paper is an attempt to formalize the conventional wisdom in simple versions of stochastic growth models with endogenous fertility. First, we develop initial tools to address the effects of ''temporary'' shocks to productivity on fertility choices. Second, we analyze calibrated versions of these models. We can then answer several qualitative and quantitative questions: Under what conditions is fertility pro- or countercyclical? How large are these effects and how is this related to the 'persistence' of the shocks? How much of the BBB can be accounted for by the kinds of medium run productivity fluctuations described as computed from the data? Preliminary results show that under reasonable parameter values fertility is procyclical, that the elasticity of fertility to shocks lays between 1 and 1.7 and, finally, that in our models, productivity shocks capture between 1/3 and 2/3 of the US baby bust and between ¼ and ½ of the US baby boom

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 122247000000000983.

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Date of creation: 31 Dec 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:122247000000000983

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  1. Barro, R.J. & Becker, G.S., 1988. "Fertility Choice In A Model Of Economic Growth," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center, Chicago - Economics Research Center 88-8, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  2. Matthias Doepke & Moshe Hazan & Yishay D. Maoz, 2006. "The Baby Boom and World War II: The Role of Labor Market Experience," DEGIT Conference Papers, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade c011_026, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  3. John W. Kendrick, 1973. "Postwar Productivity Trends in the United States, 1948-1969," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend73-1.
  4. Michele Boldrin & Larry E. Jones & Aubhik Khan, 2005. "Three Equations Generating an Industrial Revolution?," Levine's Bibliography 784828000000000385, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. John W. Kendrick, 1961. "Productivity Trends in the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number kend61-1.
  6. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2002. "The Baby Boom and Baby Bust," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports, Economie d'Avant Garde 1, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  7. Tomás Sobotka, 2003. "Re-Emerging Diversity: Rapid Fertility Changes in Central and Eastern Europe After the Collapse of the Communist Regimes," Population (english edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 58(4), pages 451-486.
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