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The Baby Boom and World War II: The Role of Labor Market Experience

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  • Matthias Doepke
  • Moshe Hazan
  • Yishay D. Maoz

Abstract

The past century has witnessed major changes in the economic choices of American women. Over the long term, there has been a marked trend towards lower fertility and higher female labor force participation. However, change did not occur in a uniform fashion: during the post-war Baby Boom, fertility rates increased substantially, until the long-term downward trend reestablished itself in the 1960s. Similarly, the labor market participation of younger women declined for a while during the same period. What can explain these reversals? In this paper, we propose a joint explanation for these changes through a single shock: the demand for female labor during World War II. Many of the women of the war generation continued to work after the war. We argue that this crowded out younger women from the labor market, who chose to have more children instead.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade in its series DEGIT Conference Papers with number c011_026.

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Length: 20 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:deg:conpap:c011_026

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  1. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709, Octomber.
  2. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2000. "Gender Differences in Pay," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(4), pages 75-99, Fall.
  3. Claudia Olivetti, 2006. "Changes in Women's Hours of Market Work: The Role of Returns to Experience," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 9(4), pages 557-587, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Michele Boldrin & Larry Jones & Alice Schoonbroodt, 2005. "From Busts to Booms, in Babies and Goodies," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000983, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Orman, Cuneyt & Goksel, Turkmen & Gurdal, Mehmet Y, 2011. "The Baby Boom, Baby Busts, and Grandmothers," MPRA Paper 28782, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Jones, Larry & Schoonbroodt, Alice, 2007. "Baby busts and baby booms: the response of fertility to shocks in dynastic models," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0706, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.

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