Maternal Health and the Baby Boom
AbstractU.S. fertility rose from a low of 2.27 children for women born in 1908 to a peak of 3.21 children for women born in 1932. It dropped to a new low of 1.74 children for women born in 1949, before stabilizing for subsequent cohorts. We propose a novel explanation for this boom-bust pattern, linking it to the huge improvements in maternal health that started in the mid 1930s. Our hypothesis is that the improvements in maternal health contributed to the mid-twentieth century baby boom and generated a rise in women's human capital, ultimately leading to a decline in desired fertility for subsequent cohorts. To examine this link empirically, we exploit the large cross-state variation in the magnitude of the decline in pregnancy-related mortality and the differential exposure by cohort. We find that the decline in maternal mortality is associated with a rise in fertility for women born between 1921 and 1940, with a rise in college and high school graduation rates for women born in 1933-1950, and with a decline in fertility for women born in 1941-1950. These findings are consistent with a theory of fertility featuring a trade-off between the quality and quantity of children. The analysis provides new insights on the determinants of fertility in the U.S. and other countries that experienced similar improvements in maternal health.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16146.
Date of creation: Jul 2010
Date of revision:
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Other versions of this item:
- Claudia Olivetti & Stefania Albanesi, 2010. "Maternal Health and the Baby Boom," 2010 Meeting Papers 85, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- Claudia Olivetti & Stefania Albanesi, 2010. "Maternal Health and the Baby Boom," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2010-044, Boston University - Department of Economics.
- Albanesi, Stefania & Olivetti, Claudia, 2010. "Maternal Health and the Baby Boom," CEPR Discussion Papers 7925, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
- N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
- N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
- N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2010-07-10 (All new papers)
- NEP-HEA-2010-07-10 (Health Economics)
- NEP-HIS-2010-07-10 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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