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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)

Suggested Citation

  • Martha J. Bailey & William J. Collins, 2011. "Did Improvements in Household Technology Cause the Baby Boom? Evidence from Electrification, Appliance Diffusion, and the Amish," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 189-217, April.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Barreca & Karen Clay & Olivier Deschenes & Michael Greenstone & Joseph S. Shapiro, 2013. "Adapting to Climate Change: The Remarkable Decline in the U.S. Temperature-Mortality Relationship over the 20th Century," NBER Working Papers 18692, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Stefania Albanesi & Claudia Olivetti, 2014. "Maternal health and the baby boom," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 5, pages 225-269, July.
    3. Matthias Doepke & Moshe Hazan & Yishay D. Maoz, 2015. "The Baby Boom and World War II: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(3), pages 1031-1073.
    4. Tamura, Robert & Simon, Curtis, 2017. "Secular Fertility Declines, Baby Booms, And Economic Growth: International Evidence," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(07), pages 1601-1672, October.
    5. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2017. "Family Economics Writ Large," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1346-1434, December.
    6. Bloom, David E. & Luca, Dara Lee, 2016. "The Global Demography of Aging: Facts, Explanations, Future," IZA Discussion Papers 10163, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. 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.
    8. Michael Grimm & Robert Sparrow & Luca Tasciotti, 2015. "Does Electrification Spur the Fertility Transition? Evidence From Indonesia," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(5), pages 1773-1796, October.
    9. Bellou, Andriana & Cardia, Emanuela, 2014. "Baby-Boom, Baby-Bust and the Great Depression," IZA Discussion Papers 8727, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Zakharenko, Roman, 2018. "Dead men tell no tales: how the Homo sapiens became Homo economicus," MPRA Paper 90643, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Rosamaría Dasso & Fernando Fernandez, 2015. "The effects of electrification on employment in rural Peru," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-16, December.
    12. 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.
    13. repec:hka:wpaper:2013-03 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Jeremy GREENWOOD & Ananth SESHADRI & Guillaume VANDENBROUCKE, 2015. "Measurment without Theory, Once again," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 81(3), pages 317-329, September.
    15. Bellou, Andriana & Cardia, Emanuela, 2018. "Great Depression and the Rise of Female Employment: A New Hypothesis," IZA Discussion Papers 12024, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Matthew J. Hill, 2014. "Homes and husbands for all: Marriage, housing and the baby boom," Economics Working Papers 1452, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    17. repec:eee:hapoch:v1_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Louise Grogan, 2016. "Household Electrification, Fertility, and Employment: Evidence from Hydroelectric Dam Construction in Colombia," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(1), pages 109-158.
    19. Taryn Dinkelman, 2011. "The Effects of Rural Electrification on Employment: New Evidence from South Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3078-3108, December.
    20. Jeremy Greenwood & Nezih Guner & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2017. "Family Economics Writ Large," Working Papers wp2018_1706, CEMFI.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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